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The Albion is a free, independent bi-monthly BMX magazine, available in bike shops and other selected stores throughout the UK and worldwide via subscriptions and as a free online download. It offers a guide to the present, a review of our past and a look at our possible future, through original and unconventional articles that cover the whole spectrum of BMX.

18 Colts Eric ‘Ewip’ Whitescarver 26 Colts Freddie Househam 34 Whatever Happened To Lard? Photography, Madness & The Cosmic Chuckle 46 Standing Tall Josh Harrington In The Far East 62 Mildly Aggressive Ben Hittle 78 Eternal Optimists Villij – Epsom – Brighouse 92 The Pursuit Of Happiness Éclat In Hong Kong 118 Survivor Troy McMurray

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Editor Daniel Benson benson@thealbion.cc

Associate Editor George Marshall george@thealbion.cc

Publisher Tim March tim@thealbion.cc

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Art Director Robert Loeber rob@thealbion.cc

Contributors Scott Marceau, Scott Marceau, Laurence ‘Lard’ Galloway, Ted Van Orman, Pusher Zine Thanks Mark Noble, Alex Allen, Hong Kong Bob, Greg Illingworth, Amy Silvester, Taj and Tina, George Jackson, Ryan Chadwick, Dan Broadfield, Keith Mulligan, Darryl Tocco, Jay Roe, Mike Miller, Luke Towey, Sam Hill, Phil Aller, everyone at The Burrows, Russell Lowe, Aaron Leah, Mat Waudby, Kayley Jeffery, Mike Netley, Ollie Reeve and Stefan Gandl (Neubau Berlin).

Cover Artist Jeffrey Bowman jeffrey-bowman.co.uk

NOT FOR RESALE The Albion BMX Magazine is avalible at all good bikes shops. and selected stores. See thealbion.cc for more details. Logo and icons designed by Ross Teperek. This issue is typeset using the Plantin font family, designed by Frank Hinman Pierpont in 1913 and the (NB) Neubau Typewriter font family, designed by Stefan Gandl. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form without premisson from the publisher. The publisher cannot accept responibilty for errors in articles, advertisments or unsolicated manuscripts. The opinions and words of authors do not necessarily represent those of the publisher.

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Having tHe Decorators in I don’t know if it’s the heat or just stress, but we’re snapping at each other like hungry hippos. My friends now refer to deadline as my period and my girlfriend, no stranger to ‘having the decorators in’ herself, knows to keep a safe distance, to tread carefully. I’m sure it’s no different to the other four and those unfortunate enough to be around them. We have a goal we need to achieve, we’re men of action forced into a state of thought, and we won’t be happy until we’re out the other side. Slowly, what we’re trying to create comes together and a sense of achievement begins to build, the ‘plan’ you had in your head starts appearing and you see that what we’re creating is a rounded view of what’s happening in BMX right now. And you relax. It’s curated - which is possibly any magazines greatest virtue - in a way that tries not to hold precedence over one era, discipline or idea. So young guys like Eric Whitescarver and Freddie Househam rub shoulders with Troy McMurray, a rider in his 40s who after drifting into drug addiction found the strength to pull himself up and back to his bike and family. Professional riders Josh Harrington and Ben Hittle are put through their paces in China and England, unfamiliar terrain for both that provides for some amazing images and entertaining scenarios. Some of the UK’s most infamous trail builders have their time in the sun, riding and talking about the decades they’ve spent digging. Éclat go to Hong Kong, where we talk about how that common goal of shooting a web video in under a week contains both selfish and selfless elements. And Laurence ‘Lard’ Galloway, one of BMX’s most unsung and talented photographers, talks of his own madness and how he attempts to understand it. What we hope is that each article feels necessary, that the cautionary tales and charismatic individuals help push buttons that riding alone might not. That the photos and words provide inspiration to get out and move, ride and think.


Colts

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Colts

Eric ‘Ewip’ Whitescarver “You don’t remember me, do you…” half-asks this kid at the skatepark, after quietly ripping lines through the crowds of mongo-pushing noobs and pot-smoking locals. I had my eye on him, simply because he was just killing it: barspins out of steep banks and airing out of misshapen quarters like he’d been towed in by motorcycle. Everyone’s eyes were on him. He was killing it, plain and simple. “Umm…” I slowly reply, taken aback by the young man’s query. I swiftly scan my memory of pegless, brakeless riders with fat knobby tires. Dark-skinned and fit, shorter than I, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, not a pro rider, but should be. I don’t know if I’m more embarrassed or ashamed that I once knew this person, now forgotten.

Words & Photography by SCott MarCeau


eric ‘ewip’ Whitescarver —

19

[a] Crankarm, Queens NY


20 — Colts [b] Polejam over pole, NYC [c] Ledge to ledge gap, Columbus, Indiana


“Eric. Ewip – from the OSS house in Austin,” he says. Automatically my powers of recall are jolted to a time of intoxicated debauchery in the Lone Star state, over two years previous. Eric had shown up a couple days before I left the first time – a complicated process in itself, but nevertheless I didn’t get to know him that well. I did know that he was from North New Jersey, good friends with Muffinman and had caught the eye of Mike Mastroni and Jake Seeley at some point in the city. He was young, like 17 or 18. He looked it too – there was no getting him into the bars on Sixth Street, not even with the most legitimate hand-me-down ID. He was baby-faced and sparkly-eyed, somewhere between the crib and the daycare center.

of bicycle couriers, a world I had just days before vacated. His interest peaked. I knew then he’d be a great fit for the job. We exchange numbers and make plans to ride later in the week.

As of writing this, Ewip is turning 21 in two weeks. He’s also just moved in with Mike Hoder; both rather unpredictable situations. However, I feel like he’s got a very sensible head on his shoulders and cannot see him succumbing to the everlooming grasp of the party life. The following interview was conducted after an exceptionally prepared meal consisting of chicken, rice and peppers in his new home. He claimed that his cooking was ‘a bit rusty’ because the gas bill hadn’t been paid for three months at the SAF house. Ewip rides the mini-ramp in the backyard while I chain-smoke and figure out questions to ask.

“the east Coast has all my favorite spots... everything between here and Philly”

About a month passed and the chance to meet up and cruise didn’t work out. Finally it was at the skatepark again that we crossed paths. He filled me in on his current employment, which was delivering for a local natural foods establishment. So local that he happened to be on his road bike coming back from a delivery. The place was on the other side of the park. He asked to ride my bike for a minute to get the need out of his system. Apparently he’d been working longer hours than he planned on and hadn’t had time to ride in the passing weeks. Expecting to see him take my four-pegged and freecoasting bike to heights above coping it had never been, I was surprised to watch him opposite feeble, 180 out, roll fakie and halfcab into a smith. Flabbergasted, almost enraged that on his first try he’d just pulled a trick I steadily struggle with. At that exact moment I realized that

Tell us about yourself. Age, hometown, years riding, gang affiliations. I’m 20 years old from Butler, New Jersey. I’ve been riding for about six years, maybe seven. I ride for TeamSAF, S&M Bikes, and I get flow from Animal. SAF is almost a gang, but… For the people that don’t know, what is SAF. Street As Fuck – just a group of riders from the same area in Jersey – North-Mid Jersey. We all grew up riding together, and when we got a little older we all moved out to New York. You have to ride alternative transition to be on the team. Cellars, lots of cellars. What are you working on these days, now that the SAF video is done?

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“Shit man, so what’s up? What are you doing in Brooklyn?” I strike up a conversation, moving on from the days of yore. He explains a situation where he’d moved to Bushwick with loads of older steel-framed bicycles that he’d been selling for the past four weeks that he’d been living in New York. He and a couple friends rented an apartment too cramped for the bulk of them and dubbed it the SAF house; more on that later. He details his desire to be on bikes as much as possible and I shed some light on the world

“Yeah man, the day you left Austin, I got shitty drunk and puked all over the house. They made me clean every floor.” I couldn’t imagine anything of the sort. He was so quiet for those few days I knew him, I almost forgot he was around. Behold the powers of alcohol.

Ewip recently landed a job at my local bike shop, just down the street, placed conveniently between my home and everywhere I ever need to go during the day. He’s always eager to help fix up my bike, whether it be tightening my chain or building a new wheel. Whenever I stop by, he always takes a minute from whatever he’s currently working on to catch up on however many days it’s been since we last spoke – usually not too many. Oftentimes his story is comprised of late nights and loose women; Oh, to be 20 again…

‘ewip’ Whitescarver

Now a few years later, little Ewip had grown up – his flowing Bieber-esque bowlcut had been traded for a more practical no-frills buzz and he’d clearly had a substantial growth spurt. I apologized for not recognizing him and at the same time congratulated him on his moves in the park.

Ewip is easily one of the healthiest people I know. On more than one occasion he has requested that I pick up some bananas on the way to his place in the morning so that the juice he is blending for the both of us would be complete. It usually ends up tasting less like the Jamba Juice I expected and more like a patch of fresh banana flavored astro-turf. I cringe and pour it down the hatch. While other people in the crew are chomping on Snickers and Mountain Dew, Ewip opts for a pouch of lightly roasted almonds and a jug of water. His diet is comprised of foods he describes as ‘anti-inflammatory’ – a term I’ve seen only on bottles of pain pills. I didn’t even know food could do that. He explains that his father, an avid cyclist, is big on health, even going so far as to modify his dietary needs based on his blood type. His mother would cook for the family and the habit rubbed off on a young Ewip. Nowadays, around dinnertime, you can usually find him placed contentedly in front of a stove, sautéing carrots or seasoning a chicken breast.

eric

I barely remember watching him ride at the now less-thanrideable Mexican American Cultural Center. On those white L ledges, he managed to manual a tight 90-degree corner then tailwhip out. I was hugely impressed at the time, again when I saw it in the video, and once again when I thought about it at some point between then and now.

Ewip is one of those naturals who possess the perfect distribution of talent, strength, intelligence and balls. Someone who never needs to put his foot down. Everything he does is carefully calculated, strategically systemized, and exceptionally executed.


22 — Colts

[d] rail ride, NYC


I got some clips for Veil. Dave (Krone) wants me to send some clips to him in the next month, which I actually need you to help me out with. That’s what I want to put my effort into these days, for Brian (Histand), because he’s the fucking man.

You are good friends with Histand – what do you suspect happened to him? From what I could tell, he was just kinda sick of society and walked off into the desert. He was really troubled by his grandmother’s passing away and he just decided to disappear. They haven’t seemed to find anything that leads to him, but I know he’s still out there. He’s a savage, you never know… So you just moved in here the other day. How’s it going so far? Well I wasn’t supposed to move in so soon, but the apartment across from us at the SAF house got bedbugs, and it freaked me out so I moved all of my stuff before we got infested. Everyone is moving out right now, as we speak. Does it sadden you to split up like that? Yeah, but it’s for the best. We all started to get a little tight at each other, and now that the video is done we don’t all have a common goal anymore. I’m sure somewhere down the road we will reconvene in a newer and better SAF house, so I’m looking forward to that. How did you end up living here with Hoder? While we were building the ramp this past winter, he mentioned that his roommate was going to move out. I told him to hold it down, hopefully until this month when the lease at the SAF house was up. It worked out perfectly.

Who are some of your favorite riders? Definitely [Steven] Hamilton, number one. Ruben, Josh Stricker, Geoff Slattery. That type of riding – pegless stuff. Hoder definitely. Were you always pegless? In the beginning I rode two in the back and one in the front, and I cut the front one in half to save weight, so I had like a half one in the front. One day I just took them off and literally never turned back… You ever pegs a handrail? Yeah, I mean, it feels cool, but it’s not for me. Not for my bike. I don’t like having pegs on my bike – it just doesn’t feel right. Tell us about your diet. My dad was always into health food, and he used to be crazy about running and mountain biking – just trying to stay healthy. My mom cooked for us all the time, and the combo just rubbed off on me. I don’t really do anything particular, just eat lots of veggies and try to avoid bread and added sugars. Any refined foods I try to stay away from. You really enjoy cooking? I started cooking when I was probably twelve or thirteen. My mom would leave for work really early, and I’d be home alone, bored of eating pre-made shit so I’d just start cooking up eggs and stuff.

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What do you most enjoy riding these days? Tight banks. Any alternative transitions really. The East Coast has all my favorite spots… Everything between here and Philly.

eric ‘ewip’ Whitescarver —

What was the scene like in your hometown growing up? I had one friend that I started riding with. We didn’t really know about BMX that much, we kinda just did our own thing. We had a good vibe, we pushed each other a bunch. We rode every day for like four or five years, then he became a bodybuilder and I don’t really ever see him any more. He still hops on my bike and throws barspins occasionally. Pretty much we just had curb cuts and little banks and shit, and we would just ride around town all day, when we were like fourteen. There was a really shitty trails spot where all the kids would cut down the lips a couple towns over. So we would go out there once in a while and ride some really crappy dirt jumps. Now I’m starting to get back into trails, and I’m actually trying to build some trails at my dad’s house in North New Jersey. I used to take the bus out of my town to Port Authority in the city, then take the A train uptown and chill with Muffinman all the time. He’d call me up like freaking out on me if I didn’t want to come out. He’d threaten to never talk to me again, and say that he hates me and all this shit, just to get me to come out and ride.


24 — Colts

[e] Wallride to table, Boonton, NJ

What’s your favorite thing to cook? Definitely breakfast. Omelettes or French toast. Juices. What kind of injuries have you sustained over the years? Too many. I had surgery on my ACL after putting my foot down kinda funny trying to whip this pocket gap. I felt it immediately. I rode away, and the second I tried to step off my bike, I just fell to the ground. I waited a month to get the surgery, then it was like eight months before I could really ride again. I’d still pedal around, but it’d be all swollen when I’d get home. Riding deliveries around Brooklyn really helped rehab it though – riding all those miles and running up and down stairs. When did you start working on bikes? I’ve been riding them forever, and my dad is a handyman so he started teaching me things here and there forever ago. But I really started working on bikes when I started working at Post last year. I got a lot of experience there and now I’m a mechanic at B’s Bikes. Tell us more about all those old bikes you were selling when you first moved to the city. I got 100 bikes for ten dollars a bike at some hoarders’ garage sale in the middle of New Jersey. My dad and I drove down with his trailer and pickup truck and picked up all these bikes in two trips. I was storing them at my grandma’s house and just flipping them on Craigslist. I was just shining them up, not even putting new parts on them. I could sell them for pretty much anything and still make a profit. They went pretty quick, hipsters love that shit.

When did you start doing wallrides on buses? Haha, probably four years ago, riding with Muffinman in Washington Heights. How do you feel about turning 21 here in a couple weeks? It’s gonna be great. I mean, just last night my friends came out from Jersey and we went out to the bar and stuff, drinking and having a good time. I really had to work my way into that place though, by spending a bunch of money on food and stuff. It’s just gonna be nice to go out whenever I feel like it, without having to work to get in. You’ve said you are partially Indian. How much do you know about your ancestry? I am part American Indian – Cherokee and Blackfoot. Then the rest of me is German. How’d you get the nickname Ewip? One day I was hanging out with all my friends and my mom wanted me to sit down for dinner, but I wanted to hang out for like 15 or 20 more minutes. She got really mad at me, started screaming at me and stuff in front of my friends, and she just slurred my name a little bit, she said ‘eh-wip!’ [spoken in a highpitched angry mother voice] like freaking out. My friends heard that and so for the longest time the nickname was ‘Eh-wips’ but when you spell it out, it looks like it’s pronounced ‘ee-wip’. Then when I started doing tailwhips it officially became pronounced ‘ee-whip’. I ended up taking the plate of food that my mom made me and ran it down the street while she was chasing me.


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Colts

26

Colts

Freddie Househam Fred’s name comes up when I’m at another set of trails. I’m told about how good he is at first, then in detail how he’s got his head screwed on, that he gets it, that he’s a grafter, a genuine trails builder. Unknowingly to him, Fred got my attention after that first conversation. I watched a video of him riding some trails that I presumed to be his own, noticing the ease at which he worked his way down the lines, throwing in tricks and turns every now and then. Freddie’s style and attitude almost don’t seem right in a guy who’s only 19. He seems to have been able to skip the trick hungry park sessions and keep himself entertained in the woods, looking up to guys who’ve paid their dues riding and digging, not off the back of a couple of edits. We spend an afternoon down his jumps. There are a few people there and Freddie tells me it’s the busiest day of the year so far. Neither of us mention the heat seeping in through the trees. He tells me later how it can be pretty depressing spending all day in the woods on your own in December, digging up ice blocks, your toes beyond cold. But we seem a long, long way from that on this hot July day.

Words & Photography by DANIEL BENSON


Freddie Househam — 27 [a] Moto Whip, Hills


I leave that evening with a three shots in the bag and a good impression of a guy who’s in an age bracket, in terms of BMX, that often leaves me a little disenchanted. We meet up again at a racetrack in Mitcham that he’s been prepping, so he can jump out of a berm and into a grass bank. On the phone he tells me how he got busted trying to strim the grass, complete with Hi Vis vest and a dodgy alibi of working for some guy called ‘John’. He perseveres and once I arrive we have the place to ourselves, save the angry youth leaving the nearby school. Fred sails over the berm, after sprinting down the straight before it. After we head to a park in Lambeth to ride an old paddling pool. He power-mowers the top of the volcano, then we take a seat on one of the highest points in South London, overlooking hot and hazy London to the North, and get some words on tape.

Colts

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Do you not go into London much? Nah, never really. Why’s that? Hanging out in the woods too much, pretty much. I think being a kid and not having a car, you just made your own spot close to where you live, which is how the trails came about really. Once I got started and got hooked, I don’t know any different now. I’m like an old man, I don’t venture out. [laughs]. I should get out more, it’s just specimens round where I live. No chicks, nothing. How long have you been riding? Who, me? Yeah, I’m not interviewing Ben here! Ben [Green]: Your photos, my answers, ‘hmm, this is… interesting.’

said we’re okay, so that’s why we’re fenced into that space. The club don’t want us being there, basically. There’s a woman who comes through on horse…

Sounds regal… It is Surrey. Horses, old people… So she comes through the woods on her horse, then goes to all these clubs and meetings and tells people that there’s drug problems here, there’s gangs hanging out and because none of them are willing to come and check it out themselves, they just believe her. It got to the point where it was just the local opinion on the place, when someone asked if you went up Hills, they’d say, ‘oh I’ve heard it’s really bad with gangs and drugs?’ I don’t know what they think we’re up to, smoking crack and jumping jumps? It’s calmed down a bit recently, even that bitch on the horse. She knows my name now and says all right. Has the fence been a blessing or a curse? A curse, for sure. We can get maybe 70, 80 jumps but it’s all going to techy stuff, berms and that. But Epsom is just down the road and the Council there seem much better, so I’m going to go down there more. Hills is where my heart is, but with that just down the hill, why not… Is it beneficial or problematic that you live, ride, dig and work within a mile radius? Pretty problematic man! I’ve spent my whole life in a mile. It’s like that film, The Truman show, I’m inside a massive bubble… It’s not even massive, it’s actually very small. Yeah I know! I went out the back entrance today.

About 13, so about six years now.

Always trails? Yeah, pretty much. I like concrete bowls, especially in the winter. Transitions basically. I know some of that, well, what I’d call curb nibbling is impressive, but I’ve never seen the excitement in it. I just want to go high and fast. And always the same spot where you’ve been digging? Nah, there was a spot by my house, where I dug for a year and a half. Then I went up Hills. I started building a little line up there as the stuff that was already there was pretty gnarly for a kid to hit. Once I’d built that and got up my confidence I jumped another line, then another and then that was it, I was hooked. I’ve gone mental with the spade over the past six years, just really got on with it. Haven’t you had problems with the conservative club? Yeah, big time. There’s these six people, old people. Most of them haven’t even been into the woods. The woods used to be council land, but for some reason it got switched over to the Conservative Club. The council had already

Ben: I bet that’s the same with most trails riders though, unless you move for work or college. Yeah, and round here, I’m really lucky because there’s a few sets of really good jumps right on my doorstep. It’s kinda like I’m in the middle of a really good trails scene, so I don’t really need to go anywhere. It’s probably why I’m so hooked on trails.

You’ve travelled though right? You went to PA last year? Yeah, I worked at a few events, like Empire of Dirt and Goodwood. That gave me the money to go away. Ross was going away with a few others, so I just tagged along with them. It was the best time, ever. Are you going back? Yeah, definitely. I think they’re the best in the world. The trails are amazing and it’s right at the end of the UK trails season and it’s the best they’re running over on the East Coast, so it’s a no brainer really. Didn’t you break your leg? Yeah, well that bone down the back of your leg


Freddie Househam —

29

[b] Turndown, Hills


30 — Colts

“I jumped another line, then another and then that was it, I was hooked. I’ve gone mental with the spade over the past six years, just really got on with it”

at your ankle. I caught it in a drainage ditch after flying over a berm. It bent my foot up sideways. I’ve got some photos if you want to see it?

What are your plans for the next year then? Dig. Finish my section for Ben’s video. I’ve been trying hard for that, seems a bit surreal sometimes.

I’m okay thanks. The foot went up like a balloon. But it was still a good time, just watching people ride the jumps. I went to the same hospital as Aitken when he had his crash. All the doctors were saying about him, and that was about three years previously.

Do you feel any pressure doing it? Kind of, but I don’t ride like anyone else on the team.

What were they saying? Just that they’d had a really famous BMXer in who’d had a really bad crash. Did you know who they meant? Yeah. Definitely. I was no more than 30ft from where Aitken had his crash. I always wear a helmet now. Did you ride trails without before? Yeah. But man, if Aitken can do that, anyone can do it. I started wearing one all the time after that happened. I was speaking a lot with Leo and Kye too, about what had also happened with Toby and how bad that had been. I just didn’t think it was worth it. I was on and off before I’d spoken to them actually. I think they made me see that it was worth wearing it all the time. I mean, it’s fucking sketchy man, you hit a 30ft jump and it’s just one little error of judgement that can fuck it all right up.

Ben: I don’t think there’s too much pressure. Dan and Joss are the people who riders will know, so they might be feeling it a bit more. But Fred, Warren Daniels, Joe Bartlett are a bit more unknown, so hopefully when people see the video, they’ll think it’s all cool. That’s the plan, anyway. Dan and Joss are really going for it…

And you’re just in the woods, drinking a couple of beers… [laughs] Yeah that’s pretty much it. A couple of kick outs, a couple of bar turns and we have a section. Nah, I’ve been trying, I want it to be good. Ben: Also, I don’t want to pressure people into doing stuff. I remember when Dan and I rode for Nike, when they had that AM team. They’d keep on asking for bangers, ‘we need bangers, you need to go out and get some bangers.’ It was pretty scary actually. Boiski did some mental shit and it never ran because they dropped the whole AM team. At the end we were asking ourselves ‘what are we doing this for?’ I wouldn’t want to put that pressure on younger riders, like Freddie, if they’re not


Freddie Househam — 31

[c] Toboggan into bank, Mitcham Track [d] Power Mower, Bloblands


Colts

32

[e] One foot table, Hills

feeling it. If they want to do something big then I’ll film it, but it’s not what you should expect. Yeah riding like that isn’t fun. It’s too serious. It’s not like those FBM jams where there’s one massive double behind a bar and people are just sending it. That looks fun. Ben: yeah, Brian Foster in race leathers doing massive 360 tables… Man, I saw him at POSH after I’d done my leg in. Everyone just stopped riding and started watching him. Everyone’s making noises as he’s going through the sections, watching him. ‘ooohh’ ‘ahhh’ [laughs] He’s doing those 360 one-foot one-hand things, through the biggest jumps in the sections. It blew my mind how good he was.

What happened with the Backyard Digger? Kye and Leo found mentioned this competition they were doing, in fact George sorted most of it out actually, basically we won and they came through and built us a new line. That was the first time I really hung out with those guys. I think that was three years ago now. I’m guessing the jumps have changed a lot since then? Yeah, so much man. There used to be this jump over by where you came in, by the Asda. It was a flyout and there used to be 50 or 60 kids just sending it on this one jump. Now we’ve got all these jumps, all tarped up and smooth, and nobody comes through. Back then, nobody put in as much effort, but there was a huge scene here. So there’s always been jumps here. Even

my Dad’s got mates who know about the spot. It used to be a Victorian quarry. It used to be really hilly, lots of bumps. A lot of the dirt came from smoothing those out in various places, which is why it looks so smooth. We’ve got 51 jumps now, we’ve pretty much ran out of space.

Why did you quit college? Ah it was shit. I was at music college, thinking it would be the right choice. I’ve been playing bass for as long as I’ve been riding. I was hoping to learn about the business and theory side of things, but it just ended up being like School of Rock. The tutor in the third term, I didn’t even last a year, said that you can never be that great at writing songs unless you’ve done LSD – ‘so why’s that then?’ ‘Simply, the human brain can’t be that creative without drugs.’ After that I was like, ‘man, this is really shit’. They’d say ‘Jim Morrison, John Lennon…’ and I’d be like ‘yeah yeah, I get it.’ But you can’t be telling kids that in college for fuck’s sake! I did an apprenticeship at a bike shop after that, which I really enjoyed. Then I got some work at Empire of Dirt, shaping the jumps. It was such good work, getting paid to shape jumps. I quit my job to then go on and work shaping the jumps at Goodwood. The thing is, when I quit and started building the jumps, that works dries up in the winter. So I got a part time job at Asda. It’s all right, I’ve done a day’s work and I’m up the trails before most of my mates are out of bed. I just want to save up, get to stage three and become a mobile bike mechanic. Become self employed and don’t pay any tax... Ben: You should probably keep that last bit quiet though Freddie.


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Whatever happened to Lard? ~ BMX photography, Madness & the CosMiC ChuCkLe Words and Photography by Laurence ‘Lard’ GaLLoWay

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What you are about to read is a story people have been asking me to tell for the best part of ten years. Whatever happened to the BMX photographer who went by the name of Lard? That name might not mean a thing to most reading this but probably rings bells to those with more than a decade under their riding belt. To humbly quote the editors of this magazine: “Lard covered the UK scene virtually single handedly for years,” “was an amazing photographer who seems to exist in various states of sanity,” “a BMX photography legend.” A flattering picture that I might not entirely buy into, they could summarize this story saying: He was last seen doing a handrail naked, he went mad and he disappeared. What I’m interested in exploring here is what it really means to go mad, what was experienced in the depths of ‘madness’ and where did he disappear to?

where I wouldn’t leave my flat for weeks and wouldn’t answer the phone. Then there’d be breakthroughs where I’d stay awake for days writing on walls and embark on roadtrips around the country, shooting over a hundred rolls of film and fill 30 pages of content in a week. There’d be competitions where I felt in the zone and photographs would happen by themselves and others were I’d be paralysed in a hotel room, vomiting with anxiety and abandon ship. I’d receive emails from kids saying they wished they were me, while I’d be hiding from the world wishing I was dead. There was a conflict within me working for a magazine, I was passionate about BMX, an idealist and a perfectionist - rarely content with my own work or the magazine that contained it. I despised capitalism, consumerism and advertising yet these are the bedrocks of magazine publishing and the BMX industry,

Whatever happened to Lard?

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“I began to doubt what was real. It reached a point one day where I questioned whether I was a robot, or living in the matrix, a social experiment being performed by our orwellian government, or that I actually was Jesus”

Madness is as natural a part of life as birth and death yet remains feared and misunderstood, one of the great taboos. In riding we may describe someone’s gap to handrail as ‘insane’ and mean it to be good. While in society, we may describe someone leaping into radical territory of the mind and becoming institutionalized as ‘insane’, and mean it to be bad. The common sense explanation of such an explorer would be that they’ve “lost touch with reality” implicitly claiming that our common sense understanding of reality is correct, obvious even. The ‘us’ being right, the ‘them’ being wrong. Yet madness defies black and white terms. Even a sliding scale theory misses the mark. Statistics say, “one in four people will suffer from ‘mental illness’ at some point. Glibly you could say, “everyone knows someone who has ‘issues’.” And realistically, one in every hundred of you reading this will at some point ‘go mad’. The causes and conditions that later gave rise to a brief and intense few years documenting BMX could be traced back to 1995 where my 16 year old self, one year into the riding obsession, climbed up the side of Southsea’s vert ramp with a 35mm compact camera and photographed Dave Mirra doing a no hander during King of Concrete vert finals. Within a year the decision to ‘become a BMX photographer’ had taken hold. In 1997 a few days after acquiring a 35mm SLR camera, a sequence of a rider called Timo, backflipping ‘the chasm’ at Backyard Jam was captured, sent to Ride UK and published. A couple more years of riding, shooting heaps of film, submitting articles and a door was opened. I dropped out of a photography degree to photograph BMX fulltime. Looking back at the period of 2000 to 2004 it’s now clear how the patterns of highs and lows, of inactivity then hyper-activity, isolation and expansiveness fit within the context of a ‘Bi-polar disorder’ diagnosis. There were periods during my career at Ride where I was ‘euthymic’ (stable), and everything ticked along, but on the whole it was a rollercoaster. There were times

the things that paid my bills. Deep down I wanted to portray a counter culture lifestyle where riding was about travel, discovery and peak experiences; a path to freedom. Interviewing sponsored riders and covering comps marketed by energy drinks made me feel like a hypocrite. The then editor once exclaimed in the office that “life is a competition!” and I nearly walked out. In the winter of 2003 I moved out of a flat I couldn’t afford, to live on the road. I was often away taking photographs for three weeks of a month, I thought I might as well be homeless. For a while this lead to some of my best work, it later lead to stress and depression. In February 2004, approaching print deadline, I found myself driving aimlessly around the New Forest, with creative block and unwritten articles expected in an office 50 miles away. I hadn’t slept in two days. The combination of stress and sleep deprivation for some can be enough to trigger the mind state known as ‘hypomania’ and at some point the switch was flicked. Fear, worry, hesitation – all gone. I drove to the Ride offices, laughing to myself, high on ideas, no longer caring for the views of others. I’d been expected to write a story on a Jam put on by Padded Cell distribution. Having spent a night myself in the modern day equivalent four years earlier I’d been tempted to spill the beans in a story. Arriving at Ride to a blank screen and a ticking clock, I turned to Chris Noble, the designer and said, “Fuck it, let’s just run a photo story and call it ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.’ That was my last contribution to that magazine as Senior Photographer. It was a further three days before I slept. Some theories posit the biological explanation for ‘hypomania’ and it’s more extreme sibling, full blown ‘mania’ as an overload of dopamine in the brain. The person experiencing it is said to be high in the same way that someone under the influence of externally ingested chemicals can become high. The symptoms of ‘hypomania’ can include: increased confidence, charisma, energy, extravagant spending, loss of inhibition, increase of


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[a] Liam 'erny' earnshaw, Sunderland, 2005


risk taking activity and promiscuity. When chemists learn how to replicate this in a pill it will fly off the pharmaceutical shelves. I did my first proper handrails whilst ‘high.’ At a comp I was photographing once, I put down my camera and did my first ever flip over a box. The majority of the notches on my bedpost were scored during such episodes. I’d go on frivolous spending sprees racking up several grand of debt in a matter of days. In such a state you can feel invincible. The symptoms of ‘mania’ are usually described as ‘psychosis’ and can include delusions, grandiosity and hallucinations. Often leading to dangerous behavior - in it’s most extreme form a sufferer may ‘see through the mystery’ and in their confusion attempt to fly into the next world - kill themselves.

Whatever happened to Lard?

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Going Insane My first experience of Mania, came about in the year 2000 during a period I affectionately refer to as ‘the summer of madness’. Prompted by heartbreak and the aftermath of Glastonbury festival, I stayed up all night riding, wandering and thinking. At sunrise I was stood on the pontoon of a marina in Cornwall, mesmerized by the welds of a handrail and photographed it. There seemed to be something cathartic in doing so, something releasing. I spent the next few days driving around the country - riding, partying, shooting rolls and rolls of film each day and not sleeping. At 7am one morning I found myself in an argument with a policeman in Brighton who tried to arrest me for walking across a zebra crossing naked and assuming a crucifix pose for a photo. I told him to arrest the pigeons as they too were naked and he called for back-up. The longer I went without sleeping the more incredible everything appeared and the more I wanted to document it. At the same time the more sleep deprived I became the more unusual my thinking - I began to doubt what was real. It reached a point one day where I questioned whether I was a robot, or living in the matrix, a social experiment being performed by our Orwellian government, or that I actually was Jesus. Following a night of abject terror, convinced I would be hunted down and killed by ‘big brother’, I parked my car up outside my father’s house and made three phone calls to the police, to bargain with them. The third call I had was a long conversation with someone who seemed to take me seriously. I suggested we work together, that I would be willing to assume the role of the second coming of Christ and, in exchange for keeping me alive, I would keep quiet about the lies, violence and slavery inflicted on the weak by those in power. He called himself Mr Dyer, and gave me a number for contacting ‘agents’. Soon after, a car pulled up behind me and looking in my rear view mirror, it appeared the driver was using headphones to listen in on my phone calls. I got out, walked over and had him wind down the window. With around £500 on the passenger seat and a shifty demeanor I concluded he was undercover and was there to test me with a bribe. I offered him a doughnut, laughed and went inside my father’s house. While my life saving negotiation had chilled me out somewhat, the idea that I was now under permanent surveillance, expected to live a virtuous life and at some point may well be nailed to a cross, kind of unsettled me. I spent a couple of hours hiding under a blanket, curled up like a fetus, sobbing with fear. Unsurprisingly, my family were a little freaked out by the weird behaviour and the things I was saying. I was taken to a doctor and then to A&E where I received my verdict. I was placed under Section 2 of the 1983 mental health act and would be detained for up to 28 days in a psychiatric hospital. On hearing this, something seemed to unravel. I had a sense of understanding something mysterious and laughed like the lunatic I had become. The details of what happened are vague,

I recall thinking I’d solved the Catch-22 and understood the paradoxical nature of the universe. I believe it to have been my first mild experience of something I would later come to call ‘The cosmic-chuckle.’ I thought hospital would be a training facility for uncovering the secrets of the mind. It was more a de-humanizing prison. Refusing medication lead to oppression. I attempted to joke my way out of it by quoting ‘Withnail & I’, “You see this pill? You can stick it up your arse for nothing and fuck off while you’re doing it!” I was man-handled into an isolation room (un-padded cell), pinned down on a mattress and injected with Droperidol. Convinced it was lethal injection - it felt as though my veins were filling with concrete until I lost consciousness. I survived, talked my way through an appeal and was discharged within two weeks. The episode was labeled a ‘drug induced psychosis’, following a cocktail of Absinthe, Cannabis and Psilocybin mushrooms at Glastonbury festival. A couple of days later I was stood taking photos on the deck of the vert ramp at the Urban Games, wearing a plastic bag as a vest, emblazoned on the front of which were the words ‘dazzle.’ Bonkers perhaps, but that summer, the momentum of the madness and the creative energy accompanying it gave rise to the photographic career. Four years later at the other end of a ‘successful’ career I had a second more profound episode of madness that would change my view of everything. The Cosmic Chuckle On the 16th of February 2004, after 5 days without sleep, talking near constantly and doing a handrail naked. I was off the rails. The friends I was staying with helped arrange an appointment with a psychiatrist I’d seen previously for the darker depressions and drove me to the nearby town to meet with him. Only they didn’t know where his office was. I’d spent the car journey opening and closing the door, leaning out towards the road and laughing, scaring my friends shitless. Arriving opposite the shrink’s place I was equally unhelpful in failing to reveal the location - I stood staring at the familiar surroundings that somehow seemed completely alien, and something extraordinary happened. It was outside a pub called the ‘Rydal Arms’ (ride all?) opposite from the Psychiatrist who was called Dr. Head (!) and a few doors away from a shop called ‘Gone biking mad’ (?!) this particular triangulation was simply too funny. I began to laugh very hard and in doing so, somehow let go of all my views and concepts of reality. What I’m about to try and describe is perhaps something indescribable. In part from my inability to communicate it but also due to the limitations of language - reality may be perceived yet it cannot be conceived. It was as though something that was right under my nose my entire life was suddenly plain to see. Things weren’t ‘real’ in the way we intuitively take them be. The penny dropped and I got ‘it’. Only there was no ‘I’ and the ‘it’ was no-thing. There was the realization that the ego I’d thought was me, was just a construct. There was no separation between subject and object because there was no subject or object. Reality was consciousness. As though the mind had turned itself inside out. What was seen was infinite, ever changing and not me – beyond the illusions of time and space. I might consider myself an Atheist but given the framework of language available to me, to say, “I was in on the joke with God,” would be close. Some people describe seeing, ‘the emptiness of all phenomena,’ as liberating - this is an understatement. It was hilarious. Several minutes spent rolling around on the pavement, laughing hysterically. And this happened on a typical English


Bmx Photography, Madness & The cosmic chuckle — 39 [b] Battle royale newcastle, 2005 [c] Joe cox, opposite Tooth Hanger, 2005 [d] Brian Terada, Barspin Walltap, Hastings Backyard Jam, 2002 [e] 'crazy' eric, Battle royale newcastle, 2005 [f] Benson, Table, rotherham 2003 [g] Mike Taylor, Handplant, Warrington, 2004


40 — Whatever happened to Lard? [h] James Brooks, Turndown, rampworx


Bmx Photography, Madness & The cosmic chuckle

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42 — Whatever happened to Lard? [i] Ian Hanscombe, Superman Seatgrab, Weymouth [j] Scott Malyon, Table, romford


Without a degree of wisdom, adopting the view that waking life is no more ‘real’ than a dream is a risky game to play. Casting away all anchors to the illusory stability of a fixed ‘me’ in a permanent world I was now adrift. But still subject to desire, fear and aversion. The dream would become a nightmare. Searching for a safe haven, a childhood memory of a Scottish

I was taken to a cell, which I entered like an animal, arms hanging towards the ground, making monkey noises. The door slammed shut behind me and there I was in hell. Anticipating eternal isolation. How to escape? Screaming, banging my head against a glass brick wall, even probing my finger around the back of my eyeball. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t work. I was brought some pyjamas. And a shepherd’s pie. The terror subsided. Then Dr Head arrived. “Hello Fraser.” I said, “Good, you remember me. Can you tell me what has happened?” “It’s as though I spent my entire life living in a blue space… and now I’ve moved into a green space.”

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Now to onlookers and passers by, here was a man who quite literally was cracking up. I doubt anyone thought, “Hooray, a transcendental experience! This man’s experiencing cosmic consciousness, crack open the champagne!” More likely: “This is a madman, take him away!” It wasn’t long before the latter took place. Something like a dance took place in the mind, where I started to lose touch with the experience by trying to cling on to it. And somehow letting go, it would return. Back and forth this went, but before long, ego sense returned. There was the imposing feeling that having been ‘one with all things,’ I would at some point descend all the way back to darkest, suicidal, isolation. Heaven and Hell.

island appeared and I ran. But with 700 miles to go it wasn’t long before I was out of breath with my face against a shop window, eyes rolling back into my head. My friend caught up and tried to pin me down, I did something that, rightfully, caused her to smack me in the face. I then began stripping off - not something one does in public. And then I began doing something one really doesn’t do in public. A police van appeared and a voice in my head shouted, “Get in the back of the van!” Then, like the line from the Paul Simon song, “Believing I had supernatural powers…” I went face first into the closed doors.

high street at 11am on a Monday morning. The first conscious thought that followed was, “I’ve got to go to Japan. I’ll find someone there who understands this.” (i.e. some Zen master.) The next thought was the suspicion that no matter how far science might probe with their particle accelerators and deep space telescopes here was something they would never find. They were looking in the wrong place.

Bmx Photography, Madness & The cosmic chuckle

“We live in a world that trains us all in becoming mentally ill. addicted to status, money, possessions and distraction, not even knowing that we are sick”


44 — Whatever happened to Lard?

[k] Marv, Icepick, Mexborough, 2003

He paused, nodding quizzically, “I see.” In ‘The Politics Of Experience’ psychiatrist/anti-psychiatrist R. D. Laing, gives the following description. “When a person goes mad, a profound transposition of his position in relation to all domains of being occurs. His centre of experience moves from ego to Self. Mundane time becomes merely anecdotal, only the eternal matters. The madman is however confused. He muddles ego with self, inner with outer, natural and supernatural. Nevertheless, he often can be to us, even through his profound wretchedness and disintegration, the hierophant of the sacred. Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potentially liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death.” I spent two weeks in a Psychiatric intensive care unit and a further six weeks on an acute ward, purely because I couldn’t be discharged without an address. During this time I received a letter from 4130 Publishing, after four years pouring my heart into Ride magazine, I was unceremoniously fired. Broke, homeless and unemployed, despite ‘sanity’ returning, the causes and conditions for quitting were in place. A rider once asked me, “When you’re mad, do you know you’re mad?” But the question leaves the label undefined and implies it is true, not just a belief. If mad means unusual, then yes. If mad means ill or wrong, then not necessarily. “Let no one suppose that we meet ‘true’ madness anymore than we are truly sane,” says Laing. The experience of madness, up to a point feels more like – freedom. From that perspective, it’s the rest of the world that appears to be ‘mad.’ The realms of madness can contain suffering to the extreme, but can also expose the existential suffering of the everyday. More relevant for me now are the questions; what are the causes and conditions for suffering? And, what actions lead to freedom? These are questions worthy of lifelong exploration.

We live in a world that trains us all in becoming mentally ill. Addicted to status, money, possessions and distraction, not even knowing we are sick. In our confusion we call those who breakdown or breakthrough as ‘the mad ones,’ scared of how radical they are, we push them away. Having felt exiled from the BMX scene I gradually drifted away from riding, I replaced the obsession with surfing, but felt compelled to search for answers to what I’d experienced. I studied madness from the outside in and from the inside out. My job now involves working closely with other ‘explorers’ who’ve travelled into the void and were less fortunate in returning. I didn’t go to Japan but found a western equivalent to the Zen master I’d been seeking. I began embarking on long silent meditation retreats to explore subtle mental landscapes and develop an understanding of the ‘Emptiness’ (no-thingness) I’d seen whilst insane. It took four more manic episodes and four more ‘cosmic chuckles’ before deciding there were no more fruits to be found in going mad. 500mg of semi sodium valproic acid, am and pm, seems to prevent me from throwing my self off a suspension bridge or flying into space. I came across a line from a 9th century monk called Te-Shan that sums up my current outlook; “What is known as ‘realising the mystery’ is nothing but breaking through to grab an ordinary person’s life.” Riding can be a path to freedom. Between the extremes of seeking glory and sending annihilation, there exists a middle way. Bmx – free - style. Riding properly we forget our stories, we forget time, we forget the self. If you travel into the void, good luck finding a way out and a path to understanding. If you don’t, well, you won’t know what you’re missing. Ride diligently. Wake up.


Photo: Dolecki

Steven Hamilton


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josh harrington a giant amongst men Words and Photography by GeorGe Marshall

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48 Josh harrington —

"I’ve never had that super competitive drive where I will to kill myself to win a comp, or where I’ll watch everyones’ runs and have a strategy. I feel that when you think like that it kills what riding is"

Good Morning China Blood trickles onto the pavement and the queue continues to grow. The line is disordered and the people are impatient. A lean man gives an elderly woman a freshly skinned bird in a blue plastic bag. The man quickly looks to the next customer in his line. He sweats as he works in the intense morning heat, sheltering from the sun in the dark shadow of a giant concrete overpass that towers above. The next customer points to a white bird in one of three tightly packed cages on the back his old bicycle. He confirms her choice and takes hold of the bird by its legs, it flaps in vain as he pulls it from the cage. The bird continues to struggle as the man tears back its feathered skin from the body, as if taking off a rubber glove, before snapping its neck and grabbing another blue plastic bag. The death is quick but brutal, the method is fast and skilled. Next customer. We are on a busy street corner outside our hotel in Guangzhou, a vast Chinese city of 13 million that two days ago I had never heard of. I haven’t seen another westerner since we arrived. The street outside our hotel is a packed chaos of street sellers, overloaded cyclists, heavily overloaded mopeds and pedestrians walking at pace with their vision obstructed by umbrellas. The road has no markings, there is no right of way, no collisions and no attacks of road rage. Clothes hang up drying in the street from every tree limb and window ledge, children in white uniforms march to school, people sit eating

breakfast in a squat position. Old ladies fan their faces. Old men surround board games…Good Morning China. No one seems interested by the street butchery, no one but Josh and I who stare in silence watching the bird seller, marvelling at his efficiency and brutality. “He’s probably done that every day of his life.” Josh pauses, as if to be considering the ethics of the man’s job. “Killing animals in the street with his bare hands is just what he knows. It’s crazy to see a culture where there aren’t people telling him that it’s cruel. That’s normal life here. You can’t fault him… China is a free for all. As long as you’re not hurting anybody, anything goes.” Josh says staring at the man as he rips the flesh from another live bird. High above the swarm of short busy people, Josh looks out of place. His hair is long, he wears a vest, backwards cap, sunglasses and quite possibly the largest pair of shoes for a mile radius. As a western giant of 6ft 3 inches he stands a foot taller than the nearest local. Regardless of the setting, Josh has the appearance of a superhuman. He has boyish good looks that could earn him the part of a heartthrob in an all American Disney movie. From one look into his puppy dog blue eyes it’s impossible to imagine he has made a single immoral decision in his life. He looks like he could be an Olympic athlete or a model maybe. Only a black eye and swollen knee from a crash the day before give away his true occupation as one of the best all around riders in the world.


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[a] Pegs Over


50 standing Tall — [b] Over Toothpick


On The Tracks Josh and I were half way through a ten-day trip through Mainland China, going from city to city by lightning fast modern trains. Joining us were a mixed bag of nationalities. We consisted of two Americans, a South African, an Englishman, a Latvian and a Welshman. Namely Josh, Brian Kachinsky, Greg Illingworth, myself, Eddie Zunda and filmer Will Evans. As an odd group we had travelled away from the heavily westernised and conservative city of Hong Kong and headed inland. The further we went the fewer westerners we saw, the fewer rules were imposed, the more interesting the experience became.

I think back to that summer weekend in 2000 and recall the lanky unknown American teenager wearing a full-face helmet, blasting huge airs on the Vert ramp and doing barspin to back rail fufanus on park. Everyone wanted to know where this rising star of the future was from. The answer explains the origin of Josh’s onslaught of quick fired barspins, clicked 1 handed X-ups, and huge airs.

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“Travelling is the best education you can have.” Josh tells me, as we sit in on the top floor of a futuristic double decker train heading away from Guangzhou. “My first time away from the East Coast [of the USA] was a trip to the Urban Games contest in London. I was 16. I didn’t know anyone. Back then, going to England seemed so foreign to me, like China is now.”

Before I left for China I pictured Josh as the big shot pro rider, made from a similar mould to Dave Mirra or Ryan Nyquist, accustomed to a high life of five star hotels and limousines that a long career as an elite US rider grants. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Josh is surprisingly humble, funny and sarcastic. Once on the trip I soon saw him to be a welltravelled man who takes any experience in his stride. He is no stranger to foreign cultures, no toilet is too filthy and no food too strange. Despite his fame and success Josh looks at home sat in the street just inches from the ground on a plastic stool holding a pair of chopsticks and eating food thought of as for the working class, Josh always preferring the local food over the imported Westernised offerings of McDonalds and Starbucks that are full up with the Chinese middle and upper classes. In the evenings, we would spend our time taking in the Chinese culture. In the comfortable nighttime temperatures, vast marble squares surrounded by giant robotic skyscrapers, would fill with thousands of dancers. No one fights or argues. There is little litter or vandalism. The only drunks were us, the Chinese showing a level of dignity and sense of community you rarely see in ‘booze Britain’ town centres.

a Giant amongst Men

By day we rode endless miles under intense heat and humidity, seeking out new and untouched spots. Sessions could attract swelling crowds of up to 100 curious bystanders but this wasn’t a lavish pro trip of signings and a luxury tour bus. At times it was hard. Police tried to throw us off trains – we refused. A day could be ruined by the discovery that you forgot to pack your toilet paper – the discovery of a sit down toilet became the ultimate daily luxury. Flesh wounds and mosquito bites were becoming easily infected, scabs unable to form in the damp air and tropical downpours. Staying hydrated was a losing battle. The hardest times were getting from hotel to hotel. Crossing cities like a group of heavily laden packhorses with all our bikes and luggage leaving us drenched in sweat. We all lost weight, our appetite killed by the heat. By the time we got to Guangzhou, the trip had taken its toll on filmer Will Evans. He had the exhausted look and smell of someone suffering with a bad fever and was now bedridden. This wasn’t a trip for the faint hearted or the narrow minded.


52 Josh harrington —

Pro Town “Greenville is a typical small town. It’s an hour and a half from the coast in the state of North Carolina on the East Coast. I’ve lived there my entire life. I actually live in the house I was born in. My parents separated when I was two years old and my mom had to sell the house. When I was 19, the owner lost all his money in the stock market and I bought the house back. I didn’t set out to buy my own house back, it just fell into place,” Josh tells me, as he gazes out of the window as we pass vast industrial factories on the outskirts of Guangzhou, at 200 MPH. Hearing the name Greenville, I think of ‘Pro Town’ as it’s also known, an unlikely breeding ground for competitive contest riders, the Hollywood of BMX where dreams are made and lost, a small town that rivals LA for its collection of X Games medals. “The scene was at its peak between 2000 and 2005. The local population is only 80,000 people. At one point between 30 and 40 pro riders lived there. It all started when Dave Mirra’s brother, Tim Mirra moved to the town. Dave came to visit and ended up moving as well and that’s what sparked it. There was already a small skatepark with a mini ramp. Dave moved there with his circular saw, a tonne of wood and started building ramps. Word got around that Dave was living there and new people started moving to Greenville every week.” “I started riding in 1996, I was 12. I grew up surrounded by all this crazy riding. From a young age I was riding with guys like Mirra, Nyquist and all the rest of the pro riders. To me the stuff I did never seemed that great. Those guys were doing 720’s and double flips, so it never felt like I was doing much.” Josh cut his teeth sharing the Greenville decks with the X Games gold medallists at the heart of the most progressive ramp riding scene of the era. He was the young face in a group of riders hell bent on learning big contest winning tricks. He grew up in an environment where anything was possible and boundaries were being pushed. That progressive atmosphere combined with a great natural talent, meant it took Josh a very short number of years to reach the level of his mentors. “I got hooked up on Eastern when I was 16. A year later Mirra and Nyquist recommended me to Haro. I rode for Haro for a year and then rode for Premium when they started that in 2003. Growing up in Greenville definitely shaped me as a rider and the older guys definitely opened doors for me.”


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[c] Switch bars


Josh harrington —

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a Giant amongst Men

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As a young pro rider Josh continued to follow the path laid out for him by Mirra, as a full face helmet wearing ramp rider, doing shows and entering contests. But as he started to travel away from the influences of Greenville, Josh began to step aside from that path and become his own rider. “Colin McKay moved to Greenville and he invited me to Australia. I saved up and bought a flight with a five-day lay over in Hawaii. I showed up in Hawaii not knowing anyone. I took the bus everywhere and just filmed myself riding the skateparks. Then I went to Australia for a month. I loved it over there and starting going back and forth. I went 13 times in total, hanging with [Corey] Bohan and his crew. Eventually they all moved to Greenville. In Australia I took off the full face helmet due to the heat. It’s really hard to go back to wearing a full face helmet once you stop.”

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More than any other scene in the world, Greenville was and still is known for its fiercely competitive atmosphere. As Josh grew older he began to feel less and less comfortable in that environment – his perspective on riding was in a constant state of change. “A lot of the dudes that moved there were trying to do well in the contests. Certain guys wouldn’t ride with each other. Guys who competed and who cared about getting number one wouldn’t ride together and didn’t want people to see their tricks. “I’ve done well at quite a few contests but I’ve never had that super competitive drive where I wanted to kill myself to win a comp, or where I’ll watch everyones’ runs and have a strategy. I feel that when you think like that it kills what riding is. Some riders only care about winning and making money. Not everyone in Greenville has that mentality, but when I hear the way some people talk about riding…it makes me want to walk away. “I used to ride Vert at Dew Tour just because I was there and I could do alright. Riding Vert was fun for me but I didn’t enjoy doing the big tricks. I wanted to do all my tricks at height, which meant slams were hard. At some point I learnt some of the bigger tricks on the Vert resi. Afterwards I felt like I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I realised I was learning those tricks just for the contests and not because I enjoyed doing them. Back then I just wanted to ride Vert like Joe Rich. I always used to watch the T1 section on the Fox Expendable Youth video. Joe Rich always was and still is one of my favourite riders, watching him got me stoked on Vert, he made it look like trails, and he also did big backwards rails on street. “Leigh Ramsdell moved to Greenville a few years after the scene blew up and he was always bombing big rails. He was the first guy I saw do legit stuff on street. At the time people in the town were maxing out ramp riding, it burned me out from it. Everyone was trying to add another tailwhip, spin or flip. Everyone was so good at that stuff. I think that’s what got me into more tech style riding and street. “I always rode street back then but I’d never shot anything for magazines or filmed videos. The media focus at time was all on ramp contests. It was only a few years later I realised I could actually get noticed for street riding through video parts. My focus shifted away from park and Vert contests to street riding and filming.”


a Giant amongst Men — 57 [d] Toothpick on a 15ft structural support


Josh harrington —

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The Transition Just as quickly as Josh had picked up riding wooden ramps, he quickly established himself as one the most progressive street riders in BMX. He took his technical skill and creativity to balls out rails and raised the bar a few notches at the cutting edge of street riding. The dramatic shift in direction is testament to Josh’s natural ability on a bike, it was a massive transition that has only been made to the same extent by the legendary Josh Heino. Ironically, with his full face gathering dust and his attention away from contests, Josh entered a golden era of silverware and podiums. From 2005 to 2008 Josh dominated one of the biggest and most respected contests of the era, the Metro Jam, winning every year for that period. He won Simple Session after that and the Urban Games where his travels had begun. In 2006, Josh won a NORACUP for ‘Video Part Of The year’ for his street section in the Premium DVD, and the next year he won ‘Video Of The Year’ for his role behind the camera in the video ‘End Search.’ “I had a good run for while, until I started getting hurt. People always told me ‘you can try anything, you never get hurt’. Then suddenly I had a string of injuries. My first bad injury was when I folded my foot in half on a double truck, I now have a bunch of screws and a plate in there, I’ve dislocated my right knee cap and tore my PCL, separated my right shoulder twice, left shoulder once, broken collarbone, concussions… Definitely my worst injury was trying a barspin to hanger. I completely missed my front peg and nose-dived into the ground. I was knocked out for five minutes. I had a helmet on but it didn’t do much. I broke my nasal cavity, eye socket and I had bleeding on the brain. It took over a year to recover and I’ve always felt like that crash changed my brain. My focus and attention had changed, sometimes I won’t register when someone talks to me. I also have ADD [attention deficit disorder], which is why I think riding street is good for me. Street riding is constantly changing, you just go to a different city with new spots and it never gets old. I get bored easily. “Being injured so much has changed my perspective on riding. It’s a tool to travel, meet people and experience things, it’s not a tool to make money. Money is the tool also to travel and be happy, but I feel like that competitive mentality is meant for

different sports where there is a winner and a loser, bike riding has neither.” For over a decade Josh has been travelling the world as a pro rider, but a close relationship with his older sister kept him from staying away for too long. “My older sister was diagnosed with MS [Multiple Sclerosis] at the age of 16. MS is a degenerative neurone disease that slowly takes over your whole body. My mom committed her life to helping my sister day and night. My mom didn’t have free time to do anything else. She was there for every hour of the day, my mom didn’t really trust anyone else to help care for my sister. When we were growing up the government helped out with the bills. “Having to care for my sister didn’t stop me travelling but it did stop me moving away. I never liked to go away for too long so I could come back and show her some attention. I had a close relationship with her. Growing up, all I did was ride, travel places and hang out with her. It sounds boring but that’s how everything fell into place for me. As a pro rider I could spend a lot of time with her. Even though she couldn’t speak towards the end she was the member of my family I was closest to. We had a connection. She’d be crying, if my mom couldn’t figure out what was wrong she’d call me on some trip in Europe or Asia, I’d talk to her or make up some dumb rap song and she’d be laughing. I could always make her happy. So many people treated her as a disease, rather than a human. I would always be joking with her, pretending to push her over, she preferred to be joked around with rather than handled so delicately. “My sister was pretty much bed ridden for a long time. I used to take her out to movies in her wheelchair. She really trusted me to do things most people wouldn’t do with her. When she was completely paralysed, she had a medicine pump, catheter, tracheotomy and all kinds equipment going into her body to keep her alive. My mom would let me take her to the beach, lay her on her back take her into the water, people would freak out because it was so dangerous, but I always thought, ‘what would you want in her situation?’ I look back now and I have these pictures and memories of her when she was dying and she’s smiling out in the ocean floating around. “She passed away at the age of 33, August 18th 2012, so nearly a year now. Her funeral was on my birthday, August 21st. I


a Giant amongst Men

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[e] X-Up pegs


60 standing Tall —

"life is too important to worry about money or a winning trophy."

tried to read something at her funeral but I broke down.” Josh says, looking surprsingly at ease as he tells me the sad story. “[After my sister’s death] It was hard for me to get motivated to ride for a while or even care about anything. It’s coming up to a year now and it still affects me. I just want her back I guess. I don’t understand dealing with death, maybe you don’t deal with it until the day you die. The strangest thing was watching her disease gradually progressing over years. It’s different when someone gets hit by a car and dies, it’s horrible but you instantly know the outcome. It was hard hoping she’d hold on or hoping she’d heal, and being told it wouldn’t happen. “My sister Haley was and still is a huge source of inspiration for me. She always kept a positive attitude. She’s showed me what is important in life. I think she’s the reason I decided to always enjoy riding and never care about being competitive. She

showed me life is too important to worry about money or a winning trophy. Thinking back about her life motivates me to ride more, that’s what she would have wanted.” In the 13 years since that tall and lonely figure arrived at the Urban Games, Josh has made a rarely seen transition from a full face wearing contest rider to one of the most respected street riders of the past decade. It has been this constant evolution in his riding and commitment to what he loves about riding that sets Josh apart from the stereotype of the Greenville pro. Over time he has become his own rider, doing what he loves and doing it for the right reasons. As he approaches his 30th birthday Josh is as motivated as ever, driven on by the devotion to his sister. It has been a long time since Josh first stood on the shoulders of the likes Joe Rich or Dave Mirra – he now stands alone as a giant himself. For Haley.


Photo: Daniel Benson UK: www.cyclingsportsgroup.co.uk USA: www.seattlebikesupply.com

R I V I E R A

T H E

k o c s i s j e f f

A L M O N D F O O T W E A R . C O M


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Mildly Aggressive ~ Ben Hittle Words and Photography by STEVE BANCROFT

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Mildly Aggressive

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“He’s so American he’s named after Benjamin Franklin, one of the very founding fathers of the United States”

for a moment the tracker pad was broken and stopped scratching around on there and grabbed the mouse. The second time round it was just as good. The third, even better. I watched the rest of the section. And then I watched it again from the start.

Sometimes, before I snap out of it and remember that BMX and magazines is all we know so The Albion has to work, I worry that we’ll run out of article ideas. With the majority of early pioneers and crazy fruit cakes already ticked off, the list of potentially strong interviewees seems to be running thin on the ground at times. But luckily for us all, BMX is in a perpetual state of change and all the time boundaries are being pushed and fresh styles are being pioneered.

On my third watch of Ben Hittle’s part I counted the number of photo opportunities from this mysterious punk rocker to be 29 in three minutes of footage. He rode with speed and creativity and an aggressive snap – the best kind of BMX. With so much line based, grind based riding around right now, a potential photo count that high is unheard of in a street based section. With breakneck pace and a style reminiscent of a Stricker / Stauffer hybrid, I had found the answer to at least one of my conundrums.

Ben Hittle is a pioneer of his own distinct brand of BMX and the scenario which led to him spending a week on my couch, while not particularly formulated, was at least honest. I remember it well, the photo on my wall of Martyn Tambling doing a no hander had barely stopped swinging after my girlfriend stormed out and slammed the door behind her. I bent down to pick up some of the books and paperwork she’d flung across the room in an overly dramatic finale of another heated yelling match. Amongst the scrunched paper and Roald Dhal books was a copy of Kink’s latest DVD ‘Squash It’.

It was only a day before I heard anything back from my water testing email but it seemed longer, and during that time the pending deadline seemed to edge disproportionately closer. Luckily for me and this issue, like two little blue lines in the window of a piss stick, the test came back positive.

With no money for the pub and an empty house sounding depressingly quiet, I pushed the disc into my computer and turned up the speakers. I’d watched it once a few days before in Hong Kong but with all the hecticness of that trip and the subsequent jetlag I couldn’t remember much about it. And for the first half of my second viewing things were much the same, my eyes were pointed at the screen but my mind was other places mulling over pointless arguments and how to fill pages of a magazine. . . and that’s when I saw the halfcab invert. I was wrenched out of my hazy stupor by an awesome trick I had never seen done so well. I reached out and put a finger on the tracker pad to play it back. I forgot

The only problem I had now was the other half. She’s always moaning on about how much time I spend away on trips. I’d already been away most of the month so when I broke the news that I’d be heading stateside again in the next week or so Martyn Tambling was once again shook so hard he almost nohandered clean off the wall. So, hearing that echoy sound of many fine cracks creeping across thin ice, and not wanting to push my luck too far, I picked up my computer and typed something along the lines of “Yo Ben, ever been to England?” Just over a week later and Ben’s sitting on my couch with my slightly less mad girl handing him a cup of tea – everyone’s a winner. It may not be the most glamorous or rock n roll of stories behind an interview, but hey, it’s real life and documenting that is why we started this magazine in the first place. The plan for Ben’s time in the UK is as loose as a Dutch whore’s draws: ride some quintessentially


Ben Hittle — 65

[a] Tight bank to wallride, Portsmouth


British looking spots and keep things as rural as possible. The traditional, but largely inaccurate, stereotype of England held by most Americans is one of rolling green fields, cobbled streets and afternoon tea – and trying to shoot photos that lived up to that seemed like a good idea. Ben is about as un-English looking as a man can be, covered with traditional American tattoos, immaculately slicked back hair and seldom without a cut off jean jacket, he’d look far more at home climbing off a motorcycle in a Levi Strauss advert than pushing a bike up the famous ‘Hovis Hill’ in Shaftesbury – and I guess that was the point of this project. Hell, he’s so American he’s named after Benjamin Franklin, one of the very founding fathers of the United States.

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Ben is from the east coast of the US, just outside of Baltimore. Upon learning this and taking into account his tattoos and sleeveless denim, I made the assumption that the area he grew up in was obviously run down and dilapidated, maybe even a bit dangerous. I thought his underprivileged intercity background would make an interesting juxtaposition against the gentile rustic charms of the English countryside. It wasn’t until after I’d explained all about how old the houses were that I realised just how off the mark my assumption had been. Far from being impressed by the 150-year-old buildings in my hometown, it was in a polite voice without a hint of chauvinism that he informed me he had in fact grown up in a house that was built over 250 years ago and was one of the oldest in America. Going from thinking I’d be driving around blowing his uncultured mind with fables of our nation’s rich history and old crooked buildings to realising that his own home was older and more interesting that anything in my county, I felt more than a touch embarrassed and made a mental note that even the most seemingly obvious of appearance based judgements should not be trusted. Oh well, ‘the show must go on’, we are British at least, ‘stiff upper lip’ and all that. ‘Aesthetically it works.’ I told myself. Before we left the beaten track on our quest for lesser sessioned, more English looking spots, we rode a concrete bowl. We got chatting to these kids who were riding around throwing flyout barspins and one of the first questions Ben was asked was not the usual “’ear mister, how much did you bike cost”, or even the ever favourite “can you backflip”, what the the year old lad asked was “How do you keep your clothes so neat?” The comment made everyone smile, but until then I hadn’t really paid much attention to just how immaculately turned out Ben actually was. From his pressed, intact jeans to his ice white shirt all the way up to his groomed hair - there’s not a mark on the guy. If anyone needed any evidence to prove the old axiom that a rider’s style on their bike can be read in their clothes – then Hittle is your man. In appearance: heavily tattooed, punk rock patches on a cut off jacket, oiled back hair, well presented with crisp turnups in his jeans. While in riding: creative, angry, slick, well considered and sharp. The reflection is immaculate. But although his riding can be clearly read from his appearance, that’s where the similarities end. Off his bike Ben’s manner is unexpected. Reserved, with a soft and reassuring voice, his demeanour is more calm and collected than fast and aggressive.


Ben Hittle — 67

[b] Fallen tree root air, The New Forest


68 — Mildly Aggressive

[c] Train station tyre slide, Weymouth [d] Tight tunnel carve, Woolston [e] Grass bank table, Sherborne


Ben Hittle

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70 — Mildly Aggressive [f] Ultra tight transition air, Saints [g] Curved wall, Portsmouth


Ben Hittle —

“He went down a storm and before long there were little ‘Hittle Clones’ popping up everywhere”

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The word ‘underrated’ is tossed around flippantly in BMX but seldom has its true meaning been more applicable to an individual than that of Mr Hittle. Ben has been riding on the periphery of mainstream BMX for a decade – no mean feet for a 23 year old – and only recently has he been offered the hand up that he so obviously deserves. Thanks to the reach of the internet (but in an era long before the recent surge in popularity of dime-a-dozen web videos) his face is well known amongst Myspacers, and through numerous appearances in influential videos, news of his skills started to spread. After a brief stint on The Take and a number of drastic image changes, the Kink family took him and fostered him for a while before finally adopting him fully a couple of years back. At the age of just 14, Nate Wessel built him a ramp in the garden of the Hittle’s family home. (the result of a choice offered from his folks: car or ramp?), and from then on his already handy bike skills accelerated considerably. Growing up with no public skatepark nearby, up until that point Ben had made do with the slim pickings he could find out on the streets and, as I found out in a conversation while driving through the leafy English countryside, it was this early struggle that laid the foundation for his ultra aggressive style. “When you’re riding small stuff like curb cuts and tiny kickers all the time you can’t help but ride kinda snappy, and that can also come across as aggressive. I had to learn to do tricks really fast as I didn’t have much air time at all.”

And after Wessel had finished his wooden backyard creation Ben rode the thing morning, noon and night, and as he learnt to air and flow a ramp, that ingrained aggressive style shone straight on through in his ramp skills too. It’s a style often described as a ‘pissed off’ one, but after hanging out for a few days he seems like a relaxed and happy go lucky chap, so something wasn’t adding up. Or was it? BMX is one of many pastimes considered a vent: an outlet for all the accumulated stresses and strains of everyday life, or an escape from the monotony of the nine to five working week. Other examples of vents, far more popular in the public domain, are alcohol and drugs, both of which are used and abused the world over as forms of relief or shelter. Ben doesn’t drink or smoke weed and his bike riding looks angry, so it’s based on another entirely logical stream of thought when I ask if he hits the wallrides as a release for pent up frustrations instead of hitting the bottle. As always, his response is calm and considered “maybe. . . subconsciously maybe. . .” Not drinking is a big deal in today’s world of BMX street riders. When pressed on the matter the tone in his voice shows just how little of an issue it is to him, “It just doesn’t ever appeal to me, someday down the road I might think differently but right now it just doesn’t make sense to me.” Even when left at that it’s a response that is impossible to argue with, and when he continues he really does make an awesomely straight forward point, “It tastes bad, it’s not good for you and it costs a lot of money. . . I just don’t see the pros.”


Mildly Aggressive

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[h] Flowerpot turndown, Saints


Ben Hittle

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Mildly Aggressive

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Not having met anyone who doesn’t or hasn’t really drank for a long time I wonder if, when hanging out with a bunch of lathered up BMXers, he ever gets curious, “Not really, I just see alcohol as a crutch. People use it to make socialising easier or whatever and I just don’t think I really need it right now.” Again it’s a great answer and I begin to think that, if broadcast properly, Ben’s combination of style and attitude would be a great way to steer kids in a positive direction. In an effort to get his back up I ask him if it’s a fear of altered states of consciousness that makes him keep the lid on, “That just seems weird to me, it doesn’t sound appealing at all and I’m sure it would freak me out.” Ben has been good on a bike for a long time, and way back before Instagram and Facebook there was a thing called Myspace. He had thousands of ‘friends’ on there, which was a big deal at the time. With his ultra tight jeans, strict straight edge views and extraordinary skills on a bike, he went down a storm and before long there were little ‘Hittle Clones’ popping up everywhere. We talk for a while about life and riding in that era and I ask about some rumours I’d heard, about him being a vocal proponent of straight living back then. “I guess I had my beliefs and I was pretty outspoken about it. Looking back now I just put that down to being young and malleable. I was listening to all this weird Grindcore alternative music and I fell into the fashions that came along with it. I had dreads for a while but as I got more into Myspace everyone had the straight and black scene hair with blond highlights. I cut my dreads off to do that, but after a year I just shaved my head. I just grew out of it I guess.” Driving around the deepest depths of rural Dorset we’re about as far removed from the world of BMX as you could ever wish to be, and that’s fine by Ben. For his first couple of years on

“We drank tea in the mornings, ate ice creams by the seaside in the afternoons and sat in pub beer gardens in the evenings” Kink he would take regular flack from his teammates over the strength of his shred boner. Super keen to be up riding early on trips and always the last one on his bike after dark, it wouldn’t be unheard of for someone to take his bike off him and tell him to give it a rest. Things are very different now though, and driving around the narrow hedgerowed roads it is a fitting location to talk about just how detached from today’s world of BMX he now is, “I don’t follow BMX at all any more. I know some of the older guys on the team joke that some of their disenchantment has rubbed off on me, but I’m not sure that’s the case. I’ve just grown out of that too I guess.” With a dwindling scene around his hometown it’s got to the point where he really only riders on trips, sometimes not even building up his bike between Kink excursions.


Ben Hittle — 75

[i] High speed table transfer, Bitterne


76 Mildly Aggressive

[j] Gold Hill bomb, Shaftesbury

I’m blown away to hear this as for the last few days Ben had shown a number of well-sessioned spots a whole new paradigm of riding. Uninfluenced by the constant stream of generic internet dribble that passes for media these days, his style is all his own: fast and angry, but clean and polished, a kind of clean punk rock. During his week in Ol’ Blighty we rode some different spots, from blown down trees to grass mounds, from dodgy transitions to a cobbled street, and he stamped his authoritative style on every damn one of them. He certainly didn’t ride like a man who doesn’t ride. Ben’s time in the UK is as ‘English summertime’ as I can possibly make it, we drink tea in the mornings, eat ice creams by the seaside in the afternoons and even sat in a few pub beer gardens in the evenings (he drinks ginger ale so it kind of counts). Watching old country folk’s reactions to his numerous tattoos and offensive cloth patches brought a smile to my face every time. The traditionally prudent locals turn to stare with disapproving expressions. Overall, the project goes ‘not bad’, we found some quirky spots and shot photos in locations that are far from run-of-the-BMX-mill: Glastonbury, Shaftsbury and Sherbourne. And some that were not: Portsmouth, Southampton, Weymouth and Poole. Blessed with a rare spell of fine British weather the countryside did indeed look beautiful as we scoured it for ridable terrain. I can tell Ben enjoyed his time on our island, despite him being the centre of attention and carrying a significant burden of responsibility, it was his kind of trip: a leisurely pace, no waiting for impossible grind combos on foot high ledges and no crowds to impress. He dealt with being the black sheep well and he dealt with the questionable calibre of spots like a champ. We rode the tightest of transitions to the harshest of bank-to-walls and Hittle skyrocketed his way up and out of them all like they were ramps at Woodward. Speaking of that place, in his younger days Ben spent many summers there as a camper and after that came back and

worked for his food and board. In all he’s been going there for ten years. In many ways, like so many of today’s top riders, Ben Hittle is a product of the BMX training camp Woodward and extremely supportive parents. As we talk about the infamous summer camp tucked away in the rolling hills of rural PA, I’m shocked to hear things nearly turned out so differently, “The first time I booked up to go I did it 6 months in advance, and I actually signed up as a rollerblader. In between then and going I got a BMX, so when I went to Woodward for the first time I’d only been on a bike for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t do anything. I could barely bunnyhop.” As he goes on reminiscing about his time at camp, I can’t help but pick up on the number of familiar names he mentions. When he lists off some of the names who he’d shared a cabin with it reads like a who’s who of the supposedly raw street riders that frequent the front page of The Come Up these days. We both found it amusing that so many riders out there front themselves as having grown up on the streets and act all grimey, when in reality they all spent weeks on end riding skateparks at the worlds best training facility, getting taught by pros and eating tacos with them rest of them - all paid for by their parents. The conversation flows on to the number of today’s top street riders who have mad ramp skills but are almost ashamed to admit it. Not Ben though, he’s proud of his heritage (but I guess you have to be with a replica T1 ramp in your backyard, eh?). When I think about the future, with maturity beyond his years and such a humble attitude, it’s hard to say where he’ll be in a few years. He could still be tearing around full throttle on his bike weaving his blend of BMX around the world, or maybe he’ll be cruising around his homeland on his motorcycle, or even gracing the pages of magazines as a jeanswear model. But whatever path he chooses to pursue you can guarantee he’ll be doing it in a way that sets himself apart and looks a darn sight better than most. And remember, don’t judge a book by its cover: Ben Hittle the cleanest punk rocker you’ll ever meet.


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EtErnal Optimists ~ Villij, EpsOm & BrighOusE Words and Photography by DANIEL BENSON

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We talk about the weather more than anything else. Its fickle moods rule our behaviour. We talk about ‘that summer in 2003’ like a high water mark, through rose tinted glasses, like us British so often do. Something to aim for, something to hope for.

the UK’s most impressive spots. Don’t use this as an invitation to visit: use this as an influence to do it yourselves. Villij

In contrast and in fact, 2012 was the second wettest summer on record. Not since 1910 have we had such a persistent deluge. For the average person, it means some cancelled barbecues, a wet weekend away and drearier drives to work. For the average BMXer, it means less days at the bowl or in the streets, more time ducking into bus shelters to avoid a downpour, or more time handing over cash to the local indoor park.

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"I’ve been coming down here since I was 14, so 11 years. For four of those years I came down all day, every day"

For the trails builder, a year like 2012 is one that in terms of riding can be wiped from memory. A handful of sporadic early spring days were the fruits of a hard winter’s work. It’s almost like a battle with your own spirit, such a huge undertaking on a modest gamble with the heavens. All the main guys behind the trails featured here have at least a decade of building under their belts. In a climate that by its very nature is unpredictable, I find that level of commitment to the sheer scale of the work undertaken often baffling and entirely humbling. Trails are BMX’s greatest monument. We talk of commitment when it takes someone 200 attempts to land a trick – not when someone has spent six weeks building a landing. Our greatest trails are widely accepted as being impressive, but like staring up at the Empire State building, we rarely think about the workers who built it. What follows is an article about three sets of trails and the main guys behind them. All these riders have been digging for over a decade, some closer to two. I’ve tried to include everyone who has put in years at these locations, but there are omissions, guys who are builders and trails riders in the truest sense of the words. The choice of trails doesn’t attempt in any way to summarise the UK trails scene as a whole either, there are many more equally dedicated and impressive trail scenes elsewhere in the UK and further afield that warrant just as much respect, so please bear this in mind as you carry on. These aren’t the snowbirds, the Saturday waterers, the tarp removers or the roadtrippers, these are the committed few, the life and brains behind some of

You make your way down to Villij by following an immaculate path cut into ivy that coats the whole wood, slowly suffocating the trees. I’m told Robbo has done this over the years by pushing his bike along at different places on the path, keeping the encroachment neatly away. The woodland where the trails are located are so secluded that I wonder how they found the spot in the first place. The motorway roars past close by, but out of sight. It’s a consistent noise that your mind eventually gets used to and ignores. Along the way random logs need hopping and overhanging bushes need ducking under, until the trails begin to come into view near the bottom of the woods.You see the big stuff first, where the lines come to an end. Rolling along, you try to work out what is going where. Towards the back, there are some real monsters, a landing so tall I think it could be three stories high. It’s the landing that I mentioned in the intro, the one that took ‘about six weeks’ to build. There’s a feral vibe about Villij that I like. You feel off the grid, there’s nobody coming through, there’s a smouldering fire and kids making roll-ups. Slayer comes on a stereo rigged up to a car battery and a hut cut into the bank houses some dusty old sofas and various sleeping bags that have been abandoned here over the years. A sign hangs above the hut asking people to respect the jumps, with Deville’s number as contact. The jumps themselves look scary. At Brighouse and Epsom I notice in their reactions that this feeling might not be totally unfounded to a layman like me. Lips look steep, some of the steepest I’ve seen, with landings that have transitions to match. “Recently that’s been Cambridge,” Robbo tells me, “He builds stuff that looks gnarly, but it works and rides well. Cambridge has done a lot of the shaping, I’ve been labouring. I love digging wheelbarrows, I’ll do as many you need. I’ve shaped a few bits and bobs, but he’s good at it. It’s been cool since he moved here, he moved into Blue’s house. Everyone disappeared for a bit, it was me and Deville and we weren’t getting that much done, I wanted to get all this stuff sorted [points over to the bigger lines] and we got a lot more done when he moved up.” Cambridge moved up North after War trails got ploughed. “He’s been unlucky with losing spots like War,” Robbo tells me, “I think a lot of riders would’ve packed it in after that.” He pretty much sums up what I like in a trails rider. Surly, a little bit angry and like liquid through the jumps. I got the vibe that he didn’t want me being there, me being the city-living street rider/photographer turning up on one of the nicest days of the year to shoot photos, and in fairness I can’t deny that I am that imposter at all these places. A few teenage years spent digging in Sheffield hardly warrant as credentials in places like these.


Villij – Epsom – Brighouse —

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[a] Robbo, Kickout, Villij


It’s hard to work out who digs regularly down here, especially on a sunny weekend, I ask Robbo and he gives me a roll-call of guys who have put in the hours, “Deville, Frog, Robbo, Cambridge, Blue, Keith, Matt, Sheen, Shakey, Alex and the youth.” I ask if he’s ever lost any good friends who dug down here, or other trails, who just drifted off after stopping digging? “Milk from Burlish trails and the Harefield locals. Both those places were fucking mint sets of trails.”

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I notice on the first evening that Robbo’s the last to sit down. He seems to consistently keep himself busy, often on his own. He’ll sit down for a few minutes then drift off into the darkness to fetch wood. I don’t think the darkness has any effect on him here, I think he could find his way out of the woods on smell alone. I ask him if he’s ever thought of quitting building the jumps, what with the terrible weather in 2012 and previous half successful attempts at ploughing the trails. “No. Never. It’s what I do, it’s second nature.” His answer is honest and I feel stupid even asking such a question. At Brighouse and Epsom there are pauses and sighs, which might simply be down to their older ages, but not with Robbo, I don’t think the idea has crossed his mind until I brought it up. “I’ve been coming down here since I was 14, so 11 years. For four of those years I came down all day, every day.” We sleep out that night around a fire. Everyone is either drunk or stoned or both. “I haven’t slept down here in a tent for about four years.” Robbo tells me, “I feel much better waking up outdoors, especially if I’ve had a drink. It’s just nice, waking up with the fresh air. It sorts you out.” In the morning the fire is still warm enough to cook on and everyone looks filthy from the smoke and dirt. I like it: ‘this is what it’s all about’ I tell myself, feeling surprisingly fresh, as Robbo knows. Later in the afternoon I shoot a couple of photos with Robbo and Frog. Frog tells me he hasn’t been riding much recently, but there’s that flow through the jumps that is almost second nature. You can just tell that they’re his jumps, much like any local at their own spot. Robbo starts on a line called Crazy Kids. The jumps are like spines with transitions pulled apart, which blast Robbo up into the branches, buzzing his wheels against leaves. It’s a treat watching this guy ride here. He’s one of the best riders we have in the UK, he’ll ride anything you put in front of him. But it’s here, at his own spot, the place that he’s put so much time and effort into, that he really shines. Epsom You don’t have to travel far from central London to get to Epsom. The trails have carved out a place for themselves in the commuter belt of one of the world’s largest cities. Even at this distance, land is still priced at premium, which makes their prolonged history in this location seem all the more notorious. I’m there to meet Jon Robinson and Ross ‘Head’ Broughton. The pair have been frequenting this patch of woodland since the mid 90s. “I don’t want to know how long I’ve been coming down here,” Jon tells me, jokingly. If dates are correct, the pair have been building and maintaining trails down here for 17 years, and with that, supporting a scene for countless local and not so local riders. I ask them how they got started, what influenced them to start digging here? “All this was bushes. It was just a footpath, where you’d drop down into that hip,” Ross recalls, “you can see where the old guys sprayed a height pole on the tree. It used to be a step-up with a flat landing. It was just footpaths cut into the thick bush and brambles. I think the first person who made us dig here was Jason Lunn. I must have been 13 and he made us build all this wacky stuff that never ran. He was proper god squad, so it was always a team


Villij – Epsom – Brighouse — 83

[b] Jon Robinson, Turndown, Epsom


84 — Eternal Optimists

[c] Tom Pinto, One footed moto, Epsom [d] Ross and 'Chinese' Alan, over and under, Epsom [e] John Spurr, No foot can can, Brighouse


Villij – Epsom – Brighouse —

85


86 — Eternal Optimists [f] Dan Broadfield, Turndown, Brighouse


Today Epsom is looking epic. I think every line is running. Ross tells me that it’s “the best they’ve ever been.” Then adds, “but I say that every year.” It’s been two years since I was last here and there’s something that seems unified about the place. Recently they’ve secured the land with the local council, fenced and gated in the jumps and built the roll-in that they always said they needed. I ask them what they’d change about the place and they struggle to find an answer. Only later do they say that right from the beginning, geographically it’s not an ideal spot. Right behind some houses, in some land once owned by a king and with a busy park in close proximity. But as Ross says, “the gradient, the dirt and the fact that we’re in a borough of London. That’s pretty amazing. You don’t get a spot much better than this – think of how much the price of land is round here, and we’ve been given it. We pay the insurance and they pretty much leave us alone.”

The pair are keen to say that it’s not just them down here, although Ross tells me that they’re undoubtedly the driving force behind it; “This time of the year, we put our feet up a bit and let the snowbirds come down and water the jumps and patch them up. I reckon we could clay the woods in six weeks. There’s a guy Ian who used to be down Chertsey, he knows what he’s doing and he’s been helping out a lot. Tom, Matt and Chinese Alan, they know what they’re doing, they’re the locals. Obviously there are more people who come down and help, but those guys are actually close by, like actual locals.” I ask them if there’s any schedule they stick to. I’ve heard rumours that they can get a little militant about digging. Ross starts by telling me how this past year has been a bit thin with people coming down. “This year has been tough for people not coming down. Everyone’s got lives at the end of the day, I don’t get pissed at everyone, it’s the guys who are down regularly who always say, ‘yeah I’ll be down to dig…’ I’d rather they just didn’t say anything and save me the bullshit excuses. We don’t expect anyone to come down and dig, but at the same time we’re down here every Saturday and Sunday in the wet and on weeknights. If we don’t do it, if we’re not as committed, a lot of people wouldn’t have jumps to ride. No disrespect to anyone who does come down and put in the hours, but if you take Jon or me out of the equation, then it ain’t going to happen. But to be fair, people do come down who dig. I just get bored of people telling me they’re coming down then never turning up.” There’s a lot of new stuff here, off camber jumps, scary looking step-downs and fast S-shaped berms. I ask Jon if he’s ever no-

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Ross goes on to tell me about a mysterious illness that kept him out of the woods for a good four years. The responsibility fell with Jon and after a brief thought of packing it all in, a trip to Pennsylvania proved to be the perfect inspiration. “It got sparse down here from about ’99, but I went to PA for a month to ride the trails there – I think it was 2001, and I came back with a bunch of ideas and went and built stuff how it should be built. It picked up from there after that. I think that’s about the same time as the Union guys started coming in, that brought new people down.”

I ask if it’s a gamble getting everything built and ready to run after such a succession of shitty years. The pair brush off the question – it’s second nature to them. I’m not sure if they think about the prospect of another bad year, I’m not sure if you can. Does this make trails builder’s secret, eternal optimists?

Villij – Epsom – Brighouse —

effort with him. Some of the other guys were proper mean, like ‘do this, do that.’ There was Pinner too, they were the good trails at the time. We used to take our bikes on the underground, so it must have been a really long time ago. We rode up there with Grotbags, Elliot, Dye, a guy called Egg Man… Scott Stevens, he was fucking rad. They were that mid 90s era where there was a crossover to people actually riding trails. I think it was in Dirty Deeds and maybe BMX Inferno, seeing people riding jumps in a row with bomb holes and not just random fly outs.”


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[g] Ross Head Broughton, Kickout, Epsom


ticed any fads in trails building, much like you see in riding. “I don’t think they’re fads, more just the progression of how you build jumps. Like that buttering Ross mentioned, it actually makes the jumps better and smoother. Tarps caught on and it makes total sense to cover the jumps.” We finish on what the future holds for the woods. Throughout our conversation the pair of them keep dropping hints about their age and how “they don’t want to be doing this in ten years time”, or “after last year, I ain’t putting that much graft in again, it’s too much.” The remarks are funny, only a half-truth I’m sure, part of their dry and salty natures, something that seems borne out of the woods themselves. Ross tells me that he hopes that younger guys like Tom, only 24, will pick up the baton. “Imagine this place when he’s put another ten years in here?” Jon continues, “I think in five years, I might come down here with a tractor and just flatten the lot. ‘that’s it, I’m done. I’m finished. Good while it lasted’.” I laugh, but you notice a grain of truth in it, maybe there’s a desire to leave it exactly as they found it. Brighouse

Dan and John have both felt that frustration of losing spots. Dan tells me how the first Brighouse was ploughed by the council, only to be given to local kids to build jumps on a few years later. The place is now a mess, covered in litter and without any guidance. There’s a painful irony in there somewhere. Dan joined John at Royd and the pair had a fruitful two years, until a local businessman and mountain biker helped have the jumps ploughed, as John remembers… “It was down to this guy called John Devine. He’d built this business out of this downhill course and some trails. It wasn’t far from where Royd was. It was called Orb. He was in with the council, had all that sorted and we reckon, we can’t prove it, was that he got them to knock them down, so people would go to his place instead of riding the trails and the mountain bike track for free – I don’t know if you remember that, but it ran down the back of the jumps, built by some other guys. We reckon he went to the council and said ‘look, if they crash you’re liable. At my spot they’ll be insured.’ It was even him who knocked them down; he was here in the digger. Total scumbag.”

"You always end up with two or three people at any spot who do the majority of everything. It becomes a lot more than actually riding. I think you’ve actually got to enjoy making your own space"

With work and family commitments, along with a succession of wet summers, the pair has considered giving up the woods. “We talked about packing it in,” Dan tells me, “even the summer before, 2011 we sorted everything out and we hardly got to ride, then last year too. If we weren’t having this nice period of weather now I don’t know how we’d be feeling, but we’re definitely glad we started paying rent again. It’s a bit of a ball-ache finding that extra cash every month, but it’s not too bad. It’s that, or have nowhere to ride.” Unlike Epsom and Brighouse, Dan and John usually have the woods to themselves. I can think of how

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Brighouse were always immaculate trails, smoothed to perfection. At Villij Robbo reminded me about the old ad for The North that ran in Ride, just a black and white shot of the first pack. We both agreed how amazing they looked, and the new spot is no different, that attention to detail is still here.

The jumps are isolated and the spot itself is idyllic. To the left a drystone wall separates the jumps from a field that slopes down into the valley below. On the horizon, the ever-present Emley Moor Transmission Tower tells you that you’re in Yorkshire, if ever you need reminding. There’s no noise from any other people, no roads, no passing dog walkers. “Occasionally, the farmer lets people fly their remote control planes in the next field,” Dan tells me, “but apart from that, you never hear anybody.” The silence is broken when the pair of them start riding. Jon fills the woods with an “OH FUCK!” Then Dan, riding another line lets out an “OOOHHH!” as he works his way down. This narration continues for the rest of the day, much to my amusement. If anyone did walk by, seeing two 30+ blokes going up and down into the trees screaming and swearing would be a surreal sight. “We’re getting old” is their only excuse.

Villij – Epsom – Brighouse —

It’s years since I’ve seen Dan Broadfield and John Spurr – there’s over a decade between our last meeting. I used to travel to the first Brighouse in my late teens where Dan was a local and to Royd, which were John’s trails. Jumping the step-up at Royd and getting through the difficult sixth jump on the second straight at Brighouse and continuing through the rest of the pack are two of the best memories and feelings I have from riding BMX. I’ve got a lot to thank them for.

The new spot is rented from a local farmer and with that comes piece of mind. I ask Dan how that feels, “I used to be obsessed with it, probably to the point of it actually being a bit unhealthy. Jon’s the same. I think we’ve had to loosen our grip on it or it would just send you insane. You can go home and switch off from it. You don’t have to worry about somebody nicking the tools or kids kicking in the lips.”


90 — Eternal Optimists

[h] Frog, Lookback, Villij

appealing this might sound to Rosshead and Jon down at Epsom, where dry weekends bring people out of the city and the surrounding suburbs. But with that isolation, something that all trail builders seem to want and here they have in abundance, comes its own problems, in that they are rarely any younger riders picking up the baton for when Jon and Dan finally decide to hang up the shovels. “You’ve got to be willing to put in a lot more spade time than riding time if you want a place that’s any good. That’s why you always end up with two or three people at any spot who do the majority of everything. It becomes a lot more than actually riding. I think you’ve actually got to enjoy making your own space, a social space I guess, where people can come and meet up. You don’t get instant results from it, you don’t get a decent spot in two or three years normally – it’s a big commitment. I don’t want to sound old, but when

we were younger there weren’t many parks around, now every town seems to have a skatepark. You can see why younger riders don’t see the appeal in digging – they want instant results.” Today though, on yet another day they’ll say is the hottest of the year, I’m sure those memories and decisions seem a comfortable distance away. I ask Dan between runs if there’s a ratio of digging to riding that he keeps in mind. “You want a good month out of the summer, two maybe. Or is that being greedy? It’s just nice to be able to say, ‘yeah we’ll ride on Tuesday’ on the Friday, and for it to actually happen. It all comes back to the weather, doesn’t it? There’s nothing you can do about it. It used to send me mad, it used to really get to me, but I think John and I have finally learned to roll with it.”


THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS ~ ÉclAT IN HONg KONg Words & Photography by STEVE BANCROFT

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[e]

Wheeling our bikes out of the confines of our cramped living quarters the Hong Kong air hits like the breath of a dirty oven. The noxious concoction of fish-head soup and sweat from locals lumping around secondhand television sets is a new smell to everyone. Our room is on the fifth floor of a 28-storey block, at a push the lift takes a maximum of two people with bikes. In theory it should take ten minutes to get the eight of us down to street level. But once the forgotten pads and forgotten tripods have been gone back for, most of the team are sat out in the heat for half an hour before we weave our way through the bustling markets to the MTR. Pores that I didn’t even know I had open and with my body swollen from the heat I feel like a leaky waterbed as sweat collects and trickles from nowhere and everywhere at once. ‘Hot’ is not the word for it. At street level in the fourth most densely populated country on Earth the air is thick and heavy, laden with refuse and bi-products of a million people all competing for space and money. After just a handful of minutes outside, walking down into the belly of HK’s transport network the chilled, if clinical, air outguns the word ‘welcome’ ten to one. With ever-growing wet patches, the pattern of Nathan’s tiedye T-shirt has taken on a deeper dimension of colour – that amount of fluid couldn’t even be parted by Moses. Brows glisten with beaded salty water. Not Shane’s – already his shirt is off and tied around his head like a turban. If filming clips for an edit is the primary agenda for each individual, then keeping cool is a close second. The search for spots staggers clumsily between water fountains and anywhere selling cold drinks.

The team is diverse: a French man, a Canadian, an Irishman and three Americans – between them their collective travel experiences traverse the globe many times over, but a conversation over a cold bottle of water confirms that no one has felt a climate quite like this. The heat is internalized, affecting every function of mind and body. It would be easy to find an airconditioned space and while away our time re-hydrating and trying to figure out exactly what those shiny balls of meat are in the noodle soup, but there’s a job to do and the unspoken desires of these individuals to film bike stunts should not be underestimated. No matter what alternatives the individual may ponder, the collective drive is documenting bike riding, and it’s this encompassing goal that underlies all decisions. Dillon had laid down the gauntlet on the first day with a monstrous 180 wallride – it took a few tries and a few hard crashes – hardened by the rugged environment of his homeland the resilient but unassuming young Canadian took the impacts from the bails like a heavyweight boxer and saw the job through to a volley of high fives and back-of-the-camera replays. If there was ever a scenario that needed a man to jump repeatedly out of a second story window then we were left in no doubt for who to turn. The question on the faces of the hordes of onlookers was at first ‘how?’ quickly followed by ‘why?’ BMX is not a normal sight on the streets of Hong Kong. No matter how many sets of stairs I’ve crouched at the bottom of, watching street riding of this calibre first hand is never any easier to comprehend. The bravery and persistence, the skill and the motivation, from an


[c] [d]

Éclat In Hong Kong —

Security is everywhere, not a heavy Police presence, but private guards pop out from little wooden boxes and make frantic hand gestures that are frustratingly obvious to decipher. There are a lot of rules here, more than anywhere I’ve ever been. The signs are everywhere, they’re big with lots of very small text on: no taking your shirt off, no lying down, no flying kites... and on and on it goes. But what’s more perplexing than the astronomical number of restrictions is the way the local population seem to follow everyone of them down to the letter: people are generally conscientious, polite-ish and leaning to the reserved side. And it’s this general adherence to the rules that makes us stick out even more, so when Dillon bombs a massive triple flight of stairs busy with pedestrians it causes a strange bewilderment in people. Faces contort into pictures of shock, security guards rush out with flailing arms and Dillon just carries on bouncing down the stairs like normal, completely unaware of the bedlam unfolding behind him. On Hong Kong Island itself, no matter how well travelled you are, it’s impossible to not be affected by how vertical the city is. The buildings stretch up into the sky, the tallest of which pierce the clouds that hang above the island – like giant erect phalli making love with the heavens – impregnating them with expensive suits and complex financial instruments like derivatives and credit default swaps. But whether you regard these shiny modern day monoliths as celebrations of man’s achieve-

ments or unsightly blots on an otherwise beautiful landscape, their presence is unavoidable. An area in Hong Kong called Mong Kok boasts the highest population density on planet earth. With 130,000 people per square kilometer personal space is a commodity not even the world’s elite can afford, let alone a ramble of grazed and dazed BMXers (to offer perspective to that figure, Australia has a population density of three people per square kilometer). Although the cubes of people are for the most part out of sight, their presence is a subconscious one, the alchemy of claustrophobia and heat exhaustion making for an intense outdoor cabin fever. We get off the ultra efficient and blissfully cool MTR and resume the eternal search for spots that is the main stay of these guy’s lives. Security guards in Hong Kong have never had to deal with BMXers before – they’ve never really had to deal with anyone before – so their reactions to the grinding of virgin marble is unrehearsed and often highly amusing. Riders like Nathan Williams are professionals, he’s ground ledges and dealt with security in all four corners of the world. Unlike the unpracticed Hong Kong guards, Nathan is a veteran in these kinds of confrontation. Most of the time, much to the frustration of the poor security guy, when asked we just don’t leave. If someone is trying to film a line then we just carry on. The pesky little patrolman will be flapping his arms and meekly trying to find an authoritative tone to his voice, but despite his best efforts he’s largely ignored or fobbed off with a “5 more minutes mate, cheers”. It’s obviously a belittling tactic that pays scant regard for the guy’s professional status, but it gets clips on the card, and that’s what matters.

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outside perspective it might look masochistic, but from within it’s picking fights and winning or loosing. And these guys are heavyweights, so mostly it’s winning.


[f]

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Éclat In Hong Kong —

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[g] [h]

[i]

[j]


After a few altercations and a couple of clips in the bag we ride the city’s main University. After we’d already pushed our luck for half an hour with lots of guards stood around us with walkie talkies trying to decide how to get us out, rightly frustrated by our apparent ignorance, one reached out and grabbed Nathan’s arm as he rode past, and I’ve never seen a rider’s persona flip quite like it – he lit right up like a roman candle. The usually placid and softly spoken Nathan jerked his arm free and fronts right up – “Don’t you fucking dare touch me” he booms into the short man’s face, confident in his knowledge of just how little authority these minions actually have. The guard cowers away, his body language sympathetic, his limbs actually shaking with fear and confusion. Eventually the guys in blue shirts get back-up from guys in brown shirts and eventually it’s getting boring so we decide to leave. Not long after we’re riding past a KFC and I laugh out to myself as I think back to Nathan’s reaction and wish he’d ended the incident with “I’ve eaten Zinger Towers taller than you!”

Shane is one smooth cat, tall and muscular and loud with a sharp wit and more pop than HMV. Like the arrival of your rugged old homeboy at a black tie reception, his is an imposing but nonetheless welcome presence. His clip count for the week would end out at six. Now that may not sound too high, but that’s one a day and when every one is rock solid, it’s a congratulatory text from the TM signed off with a colon and a closing bracket. And so long as you have a good time, that’s all really matters. It’s may seem unnecessary to compare individual rider’s attitudes and motivations to collecting clips on trips like these, that’s not what BMX is about. But it’s interesting to do so and is more relevant to this article than may at first appear. There is an undeniable side to BMX that is seldom spoken about, and it’s wholly concerned with self-interest and competition: professional bike riders must aggressively pursue their own interests or else they are likely to be swept aside by others who do. So we’ve looked at Shane and his selfconfident playful arrogance, so let’s move on to the best bike rider on the trip. Nathan is a made of clips, we already knew that. He’s the king of clips. He could probably void a usable clip from his bowels. And true to form, he systematically devoured the streets like Lardass in a pie-eating contest.

Back on the train and we have the usual run-in with the MTR security about taking our front wheels off. It’s another hard to fathom rule tucked away in the fine print of life in Hong Kong. ‘No Bikes’ is a rule easy to understand. ‘Yes Bikes’ is also a rational rule easy enough to palate. But ‘Only Bikes With The One Wheel Removed Exposing Two Awkwardly Sharp And Dangerous Metal Drop Outs’ is perplexing. We humour them though and some of us take off a wheel, and some of us don’t. We have a local tour guide called K who, like most locals, looks like a teenager but is actually fast approaching 30. He’s a good guy and, luckily for us, he has the patience of a saint. It’s no secret that BMX riders are like monkeys, even in their (our) hometowns it’s challenge enough to get people out and fed and watered and actually riding some decent spots, so when you add in strange currencies, an unfamiliar dialect and food that looks like brains then things really do take a while – maybe only eating bananas could help boost productivity? And productivity is very much the name of the game on today’s BMX team filming trips. Sure the new experiences and

Quiet and polite, the new guy Antony Perrin, despite being alive for only a small number of years, rides like a WWII flying ace. Calm and composed from the outset, never one to attract undue attention, he patently sifts through Honk Kong’s spot offerings, bides his time, and picks off a handful of strategic high value targets before slipping back into the unassuming aura from where he came. Interestingly, in a purely physical sense, the young Frenchman made Nathan Williams look old. Anthony is the next Nathan, just ask Hong Kong, for he played witness to that. Heavily experienced and rounded to a perfect sphere both Darryl Tocco’s demeanor and riding are well refined. Like an aged fine wine he lets the alcopops burn-out, hanging back while the young guns spin the clip counter like John Leslie on Wheel Of Fortune, waiting for something just right to float his boat. With so many trips under his belt he knows what’s expected of him and being the professional he is the job is carried on to completion at a typically high standard. If anyone on the trip were hungry then Dillon Lloyd was he, not in a bad way, but in a way that saw him take his riding to Hong Kong. Not one to wait for favorable set-ups to offer themselves, he took

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“Faces contort into pictures of shock, security guards rush out with flailing arms and Dillon just carries on bouncing down the stairs like normal, completely unaware of the bedlam unfolding behind him”

Éclat In Hong Kong —

It’s strange how the place has ended up with so many petty laws, for Hong Kong has established itself as a leading finance centre of the world thanks to its economic freedoms – it’s lack of financial rules and regulations. Essentially Hong Kong is a capitalist experiment in positive noninterventionism: there’s minimal government and where money is concerned people and the markets are left to get on with pursuing their own selfinterests. It’s an experiment that has done very well for the place (Hong Kong has the longest life expectancy, one of the highest per capita incomes and the highest average IQ score in the world) and it was doing pretty good for us too, the intervention of these plebs with two-way radios was an inconvenience, but it was a minor one and easily offset by the lack of real policemen.

friendships are a favourable bonus, but the underlying agenda of stacking clips never strays too far from the sidewalk of the frontal lobe highway. There is no obvious competition for clips amongst the fellow riders – no one but Shane was counting his clips out loud – but that might just be because no one else is counting, or it could be that no one else is counting out loud?


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[k]

what was there and kicked it and choked it with Canadian feet and hands until it worked for him and gave him what he came for. If his approach to the trip was a film, it would be called The Hong Kong Chainsaw Massacre... and no one would make it out alive. The combination of all these approaches saw Peter Adam’s hard drives fill to bursting point in no time at all. The success of Éclat’s filming project is in a large part mirrored by the economic environment that made the very country so exuberant in the first place: when left to get on with it, the self-interested motivations of individuals find order in a self-regulating, selfbenefiting harmony which benefits everyone. Fundamentally, as is the case with all trips put on by brands [enterprises], the paid professionals in this article [individuals] were in Hong Kong to influence consumers and generate media to be disseminated to a global audience [a market] in order to sell product and in turn generate capital. And while that may at first seem like a cynical overview, it’s the way of the world we live in, and when the byproducts of such an exer-

cise are expanded minds, life-long memories, good times with like-minded people, more kids riding quality bike parts and an investment for more of the same in the future – that cynicism is easily dispelled. Just like Hong Kong itself, this trip showcases the ideals of today’s form of capitalism in full effect: pursuit of individual self-interest in turn benefiting everyone. The battle against the heat, crowds and security was a grueling one, and that’s before bikes are even ridden. The interaction between different civilizations and climates and humans throws up hurdles never jumped and situations never before lived. And while visiting an alien land for the purpose of a filming trip may miss some of the more obvious sites and sights, the emersion in the country’s street life by a vagabond band of bike riders meant that it wasn’t just the visitors who were left with new experiences – from inspired young Chinese men to frustrated security guards to bewildered pedestrians to peg and tyre marks on virgin architecture, to leave such an indelible mark on such a significant and mighty place is surely a web video worth clicking on.

[a] Anthony Perrin, tooth hang at the end of a line. [b] Anthony Perrin, Ice. [c] Nathan Williams, Nollie Feeble 180. [d] Nathan, stair ride 1st set, nollie pegs 2nd, bar 3rd, rail 360 last. [e] Anthony Perrin, double set 180 bar. {f] Darryl Tocco, barspin [g] Darryl Tocco, access toboggan. [h] Shane Weston, bump jump 180 downside whip. [i] Anthony Perrin, toothpick grind. [j] Dillon Lloyd, wallride. [k] Darryl Tocco, hubba feeble hard 180.


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Survivor ~ TroY MCMurraY Life can be rollercoaster of experiences. The highs and lows of each individual’s life defining them, while simultaneously either making or breaking them. In most cases only the strong survive. Troy McMurray has a survivor in him. Lifting himself from a broken family he chased and created a pro riding career that most can only dream about. Growing up riding in Denver in the state of Colorado, Troy stormed into the public eye with a raw and unorthodox riding style. Riding a gyro, two brakes and four pegs he shocked the ABA and NBL dirt circuit with an arsenal of original 360 variations. Later on he pioneered brakeless riding on both street and dirt. In street he threw the bars over insane gaps, helped pioneer the whip hop, slid deadly handrails and pushed the envelope of fakie tricks, such as transition truck drivers and fakie wall rides to barspins. His brakeless dirt jumping introduced huge 180 combinations over doubles to the contest platform. Troy is tough like a junkyard dog, which went hand in hand with his fearless riding style. He wasn’t afraid to let that inner animal out, getting in fights deliberately and regularly, earning himself the title ‘Tough As Nails’.

It was Sean McKinney who helped Troy get on S&M and it was largely down to him that Sean’s Sabbath frame became so popular, stirring up interest in the market for short, stout frames. Soon afterwards, S&M branded Troy with The Warpig, his signature frame that followed on from the Sabbath. It was a heavy bike, built for tough riders who weren’t afraid to ride anything and everything. Troy became a regular face on the contest scene and earned his endorsements by brands like Puma by placing well at contests all over the country, including multiple X-Games appearances in the late nineties, riding in both the street and dirt events. He snagged the win at the Austin MTV Sports and Music Festival street comp in 1997 while wearing a ‘Property of Austin, TX’ jail uniform that he had earned the night before. He filmed multiple video parts showcasing his sheer power and originality on a bike; topped by his ending section in S&M’s classic Video 4. He also made appearances in Road Fools 5 and Dave Mirra’s Pro BMX video game. Troy later was marketed into an action figure and a finger bike toy; unfortunately he never received a profit from either.

Words by Ted Van Orman Photography by Ted Van Orman and Pusher Zine


i

f you were riding BMX in the United States around the turn of this century and did not know who Troy McMurray was, you were probably living under a rock. His riding and attitude influenced generations of riders and his style has been imprinted on the world of Freestyle for eternity. Sadly after stepping out of the spotlight, he fell into a world of darkness, letting drugs consume his identity. Losing his grasp on reality, Troy disappeared from the public eye and fell off the BMX ratio. When it reached the point that he lost all he cared for and his self-respect, he found a way to break the chains of addiction. As he got his life back on track, he rediscovered how beautiful clean living can be. Reconnecting with the construction skills he learned growing up, Troy created his own independent business. He directed his focus and determination towards the demolition and creation of homes, hiring fellow riders as coworkers, so that, “when I want to work instead of ride, I can give them the option.” He has created a beautiful family with his wife Amanda and two precious little girls, Lavada Lou and Mary Mae.

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This past December, Troy was hospitalized with multiple pulmonary embolisms, another setback that almost cost him his life. Again, Troy found his way through an unexpected challenge – his love for riding and his family. His ability to overcome any obstacle in his path has been inspiring. On a Monday evening in July, I recorded the following interview with Troy on the front porch of his Lakewood, Colorado, home. As usual, Troy was confident and surprisingly enthused to answer all of the questions I put to him. Our conversation began at sunset and carried on into darkness, while his wife and daughter Lavada moved in and out of our exchange. With his raspy voice, on point hand gestures and ever-changing facial expressions, Troy opened up about his early riding influences, pro career, drug addiction, family, his recent illness and what the future holds for him and his young family.

Ok, it’s evening of the 8th of July 2013. Please state your name and age. Troy McMurray. I am 40 years of age. What year did you get into Freestyle? 1983. I learned how to do a peg pogo hop at a school assembly on a Patterson Racing bike. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever done. I was very successful at those hops. Who were some of the early influences on your riding? When I first started riding it was all the really old school guys. Eddie Fiola, Martin Aparijo, The whole GT team, Dizz Hicks, Eddie Roman, Brian Blyther and Ron Wilkerson. As time progressed, riders like Dave Voelker, Pete Augustin, Brad Blanchard, the Dirt Brothers and of course always Mat Hoffman. I saw Hoffman ride in person in 1988. He was riding an 8ft quarter pipe that was 8ft wide going insanely high. Mike Dominguez was also always my favorite rider. He did the first fakie air I’d seen. After that I had to learn them. How did Scott Fyffe influence your riding? Before I met Scott I was this out of control bike rider. Really, I was completely out of control. I could do any trick, but it was just go for it, contest day, every day. When I met Scott, he was doing bunnyhop bar hops down stairs with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. He was kicked back, always blasting Bad Religion and the Misfits. He was totally different from me. I grew up in the ghetto and everything was hip-hop and gangster style. Does that explain the mix of rock and roll and hip-hop in your style?

That was my upbringing. My neighborhood and everyone around me was gangster, including my family. That style mix was from trying to figure out my own identity as a teenager. Learning that I did not have to join the gangs to make it through my neighborhood. I could just be ‘me’, although that influence was always around. Once Scott came into my life with his punk rock style, I’d just feed off of him. He taught me how to be an individual. I always felt like I had to be like everyone else. He showed me that I could be my own person by doing my own thing and with that be cooler than everyone else, by just being me.

So Fyffe introduced you to ‘Freestyle’? Jay Eggleston introduced me to Freestyle. Scott introduced me to street riding, nose bonks over medians, bunnyhopping over things and wall rides. Once I was fed that, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. Scott’s bike riding was pretty far ahead of its time. To this day people have not done a lot of the tricks he was doing. If he were riding now, everyone would be emulating his style. Tricks like fully stretched Indian airs to opposite nofooted cans, superman barhop, lazy boy barhops, barrel roll 360s, three-no-handers before anyone else was doing them and just about every trick you can think of. He would just show up to the V, no warm up, and fire out whatever he felt like doing. Tell me about Duncan Gore. Duncan and I go as far back as Scott Fyffe and I. He influenced my riding because he was the crazy guy. He would sniff a chain through his nose and pull it out his mouth. He looked like Axel Rose from Guns N Roses. He was just in his own world. He was way off his rocker back in the day. He had a big part in developing me as a rider. We rode everything. Dirt, street, ramps and flatland like the original all around rider, DMC. That’s how we all wanted to ride. How did your riding start getting recognized? In high school, some local shops were helping me out. After I graduated in 1992, I knew what my path was going to be. I moved to Muscatine, Iowa, right outside of Davenport to ride the Rampage Skatepark everyday. Riding there I saw Rick Moliterno, Krt Schmidt, Bill Nitschke, Mel Cody, Luc-e and Taj; it was just so motivating. Seeing all these awesome riders ride everyday, it just pushed me to try and be on their level. How did sponsorship happen? I was starting to come into my own around 1994. Concentrating on originality and just pushing myself to do all my own tricks. Jay Eggleston and I actually paid $50 to ride for GT. We got a box of parts and thought we were ‘co-sponsored’. I got some free sweatpants one day from Yellow Designs after I ruined my pants. I thought, ‘I’m on my way!’ [laughs]. At the 1994 OKC contest, Scott Fyffe and I were destroying the jump box and they actually stopped Vert and told everyone to come watch us ride. We both got photos in Ride from that contest labeled ‘unidentified’. After that, Rich Zabzdyr from Graveyard Products was going to put me on his team as the first street rider. It was an all flatland company, but I was honored and felt blessed to be representing him and flatland fugitives. Unfortunately Rich passed away in a car accident coming back from a contest in York, PA, Plywood Hoods. Everything ended really abruptly and left a huge void. Sean McKinney started working for Primo and I got a free seat and some tyres at a Hoffman contest and I was just pumped because of it. Then McKinney got me on S&M and I rode a Dirt Bike frame for a little while until The Sabbath frame was designed.We took the Sabbath to great levels of just having fun on a little heavy bike. We made it ‘the bike’ for street riders, dirt jumpers and flatlanders.The sales of the Sabbath did really well back then. After winning the


Troy mcmurray — 121 [a] Wallride to Barspin, denver, Colorado


122 — survivor

[b] Puma signature shoe advert (mulligan) [c] Various spreads from Pusher Zine [d] Troy making light work of any obstacle


ATX MTV sports and music festival street comp and doing really well at the bigger NBL dirt jump comps, I was rewarded with my own signature frame from S&M – The Warpig. It was kind of like McKinney and I having our own company with the Sabbath and the Warpig. The sales on the Warpig did really well and from the start Chris Moeller was always really good at taking care of his riders. I wasn’t an exception. I was spoiled off of the sales of the Warpig. Everything kept evolving with Primo, S&M, and then Puma came into the picture. At one point the whole S&M team was co sponsored by Puma. With me getting a lot of coverage and traveling, that morphed into me being the main BMX rider for Puma and getting my signature shoe, The McMurray.

What’s the story behind the MTV Sports and Music Festival contest? The night before the contest, the Gonz and I were thrown in jail because he was carrying an open alcohol container on the street. I was too, but it was hidden. They told us we would be locked up until Monday morning. MTV must have had something to do with getting us out, because we were out Saturday morning. I stole the jail uniform that read ‘property of Austin Texas’ and rode in it during the contest. I rode well and ended up taking the win. How much money were you making off riding? For a couple years, with my frame, shoe, video games and contests I was almost clearing six figures. I had an action figure and supposedly a finger bike, but I never saw any money from those…

You lit the match on the brakeless revolution. What made you do that? Skaters don’t have brakes. I was at a contest in Providence, Rhode Island, sitting in my hotel room with Nate Hanson and my thumbs were all bloody. I just took my brakes off. A week before, I had taken my brakes off while transferring bikes and I

“i was not Troy the pro rider, or Troy this positive energy – i was Troy the fucking drug addict”

How did you start your own construction business? Before I got blessed to ride my bike for a living, I owned a construction business. I know a lot of riders are not lucky enough to have something to fall back on after their career. I know a lot of riders who give up education or learning a trade for riding. But just like a football player, most riders only have a small window of opportunity to make a living and then it is done. Lucky for me, I learned how to build houses when I was really young. I learned all the trades from everyone I worked for and from all the side jobs I picked up along the way. When I was done making money riding, I did some “other things” and then I knew I had to be responsible again. Naturally I fell right back into doing what I know, which is building houses. Do you want to talk about the ‘other things’? I will always talk about the other things. What were the ‘other things’? I turned into being a drug dealer and that turned into me being a drug addict. I fell into a dark world. It was insanity. Selling

123

What is the biggest set of doubles you have 180 bar flipped? I nailed one over a 25-foot set of doubles at a contest in Tahoe, CA.

What took your riding out of the limelight? I think in some ways it had to do with how some of my sponsors let me go. That really turned me off to the whole ‘being in the limelight’. I felt like I did a lot for my sponsors and to get a last check with a sticky note on it saying, ‘this is your last check’ really hurt. I rode for Puma for ten years, with a signature shoe, and to just stop getting checks in the mail, to know that when they are done with you, ‘they are just done with you’. It’s just like FUCK YOU – I have a heart and meaning too. I have a life, I have bills, and it doesn’t matter if I am making 100,000 or 2,000. At the time I was cut, I was really relying on that money. To be pissed on like that, made me say, ‘Fuck the whole scene’. Truthfully, I’ll just ride for me. Who gives a shit about anything else? McKinney once said if he couldn’t place top ten at a contest, then he shouldn’t be getting paid. I felt the same way; I want some other kid to have an opportunity. I always hated the older riders, who were just holding onto their paychecks. There are a lot of riders working their asses off, just trying to get a free frame.

You also brought to the table tricks like truck fakies and 180 barspins over doubles. How did those moves come to the table? I was trying to blend skateboarding and bike riding. A barspin was a bar flip to me. You know, kick flip equals bar flip, it just sounded the same. Mark Frank was a badass skateboarder and snowboarder and we would run across each other in downtown Denver. He was such a good street skater and I would just try and leave teeth marks in his style. Transforming it over to what I was doing on my bike. My fakie tricks go back to Mike Dominguez. They were also influenced by snowboarding – I was snowboarding a lot at that time and everything could be done to fakie. I was not the greatest snowboarder but it opened my eyes to doing big 180 bar flips and 540s over doubles on my bike.

What is the story behind the Broncos Helmet? Shannon Sharpe ruled, the Broncos ruled and they are my hometown team. At the ABA King of Dirt most of the time Chris Moeller would show up with a wild themed helmet. I wore it to pay tribute to Moeller’s helmet tradition.

Troy mcmurray

You have done a ton of 360 variations. My favorite was when you 360d and flipped the bird to the entire crowd during X-Games dirt. What are some of your favorite three variations? [Troy laughs and smiles, as if he’s been waiting for this question] Neil Armstrongs [front rocket], candy bar to cancan, double trucks, rocket trucks, no-footed cancan seat grab, suicide trucks, Segals [3x to cross the hands] The big mac [bar spin grab bar spin] just to name a few. Threes are endless. I wanted to show up to every contest and just do threes and never hit the jumps straight. It seemed to piss people off, but that only made me want to do it more. To this day, I would rather three a jump than jump it straight.

learned barspin to tailtaps. I was influenced from seeing Dave Osato doing perfect brakeless nose picks. Traveling to Arizona and seeing everyone brakeless, mostly because there weren’t bike parts around and most of the riders could not afford them – it just progressed and progressed and took on a world of its own. It is 15 years later and I put a straight cable on my bike this year. Full circle.


cocaine was an easy way to make really good money and still have my free time to ride. That worked for a year or so, and then it just consumed me. I became isolated. I got hit by a car, knocked my teeth out, broke my leg and couldn’t pay my bills. I had to live in a trailer home, in a trailer park. Living there just fed to my addiction. I would just shut the door, even when it was a beautiful day out. I could just make a week pass before my eyes. It got to the point where I didn’t care about making the money; I just wanted to be high. I wanted to avoid everything and everyone. I was not Troy the pro rider or Troy this positive energy, I was Troy the fucking drug addict. The humility of it was too much.

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What pulled you from the darkness? I got myself into a nice house in Denver and woke up one morning face down in vomit and urine. I realized I didn’t want to be drunk, I didn’t want to be a crack head, I didn’t want to do any more cocaine, I just wanted to be positive. I lifted my hands to God and prayed hard. I said whatever path you want me on I will take it. I had never really done that before. I had believed in God, but had never asked for anything. Next thing I knew, I was going to jail. I spent four weeks in the county jail and then I was put on probation. Probation helped me maintain sobriety, which is what I needed and wanted. Probation sucked, but it was a blessing. I took a negative situation and turned it into a positive. As a result of that, everything in my life is unbelievably awesome. I feel good about myself, I feel good about my family and I feel good about my surroundings. What would you tell anyone falling into substance abuse? I don’t want to sound like an AA meeting, but going out and being a rock star is temptation, you know, like ‘Elusive Pussy’. You do cocaine all night with a girl, she eludes you, it ends up gone and you are all gone. That is

painful. I wanted to make a badass American made bike company. But the bike industry is hard. I am not the only person that failed at having a bike company either.

What was up with you and fighting? I love fighting people. I’m Irish and I grew up angry. Clay Brown, Brian Ward and I would have Friday night fights. We would go out on Fridays and just see what meatheads wanted it. So were you backing Clay up? No, Clay could hold his own. Clay’s good. Clay has his own style, Mr Golden Gloves boxer. It doesn’t add up to the style I got. I’m just ready to beat somebody’s ass and I don’t care how I have to do it. It just used to be fun. It’s not me any more. But if someone messes with my family or I, I am whooping an ass. I don’t have any animosity towards people anymore, but dude, the fighting thing was awesome. It was just part of my life at the time. How did you meet your wife Amanda? I was working as a bouncer at the Rock Bar in Denver, one night she randomly gave me a hug and I thought it was rad. The following weekend, I saw her again and went up and tugged on her hair and said, ‘is that Vidal Sassoon?’ She said no, but she loved that I pulled her hair and she loves that I make babies. Right honey? Amanda seems to be really supportive of your riding. I remember her coming to watch you ride while she was pregnant with your first daughter, Lavada Lou. That must be awesome to have her support? When we were together before the babies, she knew that riding meant everything to me. She understood how important it was for me to have time to ride. Once Lavada was born, she was at a skatepark, the trails or a bike contest for the first seven months of her life. She

“Threes are endless. i wanted to show up to every contest and just do threes and never hit the jumps straight. it seemed to piss people off, but that only made me want to do it more. To this day, i would rather three a jump than jump it straight”

just one night; next thing you know, you are five years deep into an addiction. People are afraid to come over to your house because they think they will find you dead. It can happen to anyone. Have fun, keep it recreational, keep it humble. The minute it loses that state, you are going to be fucked. I’m not the only dude in the world that drugs have taken down.

has been on top of the mega ramp; she has met Hoffman and a ton of other rad people. It is insane. It is hard being dad, a husband, running a business and finding time to ride. But I have my demons in my head that make me selfish. I have to ride my bike or I am just not happy. It is my venting, my self-esteem, it is my drug. Having Amanda’s support is amazing.

Tell me about your bike company Evolution? Evolution was a great idea; the drugs just consumed that idea. I took the team on tour, we had things going forward and then one batch of frames took seven months too long. Those frames missed Christmas sales and the steam and word of mouth just kind of stopped. The drug selling and addiction killed it and that was really

What happen last winter when you were hospitalized? How did it change your life? I was three months away from having my second daughter, Mary Mae. I woke up in severe pain on Christmas Eve. I had crashed on my bike a few days prior and kind of figured it was nothing major.When I woke up on Christmas morning, my body was having intense muscle spasms and was actually


Troy mcmurray — 125

[e] 360 nac nac, Frisco, Colorado


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[f] Cradle Carve, Fairplay, Colorado

shutting down. It was Lavada’s first Christmas and I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I wanted to see her open her presents. I wanted to see her smile. Growing up I never had Christmas or much of a family, so providing for mine means the world to me. After all the presents were opened at my Mother in Law’s house, my body was progressively worsening, so we went to the emergency room. Lucky for me, my Mother in Law lives a few blocks from one of the best heart hospitals in the country, Swedish Medical Center. I was diagnosed with multiple pulmonary embolisms, which is blood clots. I was high risk for having a massive heart attack; there was a blood clot directly in the valve of my heart. I had to spend a few weeks in the hospital and even when I came home, I was in extreme pain. No doctor could diagnose why it was happening. I had to give myself shots in the stomach twice a day that made my body feel like it was on fire. Life just stopped for a couple months. Having no answers, and at a very high risk of having a heart attack the entire time, it was terrifying thinking that I could die before Mary Mae was born. That was brutal. The doctors had me on all kinds of drugs and blood thinners. I started using some natural remedies like ‘oil pulling’ (a traditional indian folk remedy) and gave up smoking cigars, which was something I indulged in too much after I got sober. If I stayed on all the medications, I would have never been able to ride again. So I slowly moved away from the prescriptions. I would never be able to live that way. If I were to die because of my choice to not take the medication, at least my daughters would know that I lived on my own terms.

You pulled through that nightmare and are healthy, working and riding. It seems you have had renewed enthusiasm towards riding trails? Why dirt? Dirt jumping was my first love – I cheated on her. Skateparks are rad and are everywhere, but trails are the real deal. You guys also built some badass trails about seven miles from my house. This old man just wants a piece of the pie. I want to jump. Hoffman Bikes is helping you out. When Mat donated to your fundraiser page last winter, he wrote, ‘you’re my hero’. How does that make you feel?

I don’t even know how to explain that comment. I’m sure everyone who rides a bike is Hoffman’s hero. The man loves adrenaline, he loves success, and he loves life. If I am a hero in any way to him, I am not worthy of it. Getting back to the donation page, for everyone that helped my family and I through the hard time, THANK YOU. There is nothing I could say, draw or paint that could describe how grateful I am to everyone who helped me through it. Just knowing that my family was financially sound while I was down, was a huge relief. It also allowed me to just concentrate on healing and consume myself with positive thoughts and energy, even though it was hard to not break down. Cry and be depressed. My family is everything to me and to not be able to provide for a period of time was very tough. Asking for help is hard for me to do, but I am so grateful to everyone that helped. Whatever I can do for anyone that has helped or anyone that just needs help, just put the word out!

Do you have any goals for your riding from here on out? My goal is to be happy. Riding makes me happy. I would like to progress more and get my steez back at the trails. I just want to get back to being me. I heard Hoffman say, ‘If I am dead in a coffin and there is still a bone or a body part that feels good, I am going to be pissed.’ I’m not saying I want to go to Hoffman’s level of injuries. I am nowhere close and that is the way I want to keep it. But my body has a lot of fire left. I want to use it to ride trails. Thanks? I would like to say thank you to God, my wife, my kids, my family, Hoffman Bikes, Keith Treanor, Jeremy, Mat Hoffman, Steve Swope, John Povah, Pete Augustin, Sean McKinney, Chris Moeller, Etnies, Scott Fyffe, Clay Brown, I really want to thank Billy Graham and of course you Ted. Last words Love your life. Love your wife.


Photo: Oli Jones


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The Albion Issue 15  

The Albion BMX Magazine, Issue 15, featuring: Eric ‘Ewip’ Whitescarver, Freddie Househam Whatever Happened To Lard? Josh Harrington, Ben Hit...

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